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A map of Kim Jong-un’s slow train trip to Vietnam
North Korea's Great Leader would rather not fly for his second summit with Trump – but the trip is also a political message to China.
- Kim Jong-un is already traveling for his summit with Trump on Wednesday.
- Rather than flying, he's taking a 60-hour train trip through China.
- The trip is a closely guarded secret, but this map shows the most likely itinerary.
This Wednesday and Thursday, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump will have their second summit, this time in Vietnam.
But while the U.S. president is still in DC, North Korea's Great Leader is already en route. That's because Kim is covering the distance between Pyongyang and Hanoi by slow train rather than fast plane.
The train trip is not just a vote of no confidence in the airworthiness of North Korea's winged fleet (1), it's also a political signal to China – the biggest (and only) ally the Hermit Kingdom has left in the world. And an example of the delightful weirdness the world will have to do without once the world's only remaining Stalinist dictatorship inevitably crumbles.
On Saturday, Kim boarded his special train in the North Korean capital Pyongyang. It's a 21-carriage, bullet-proof, army-green train that because of its armor plating reportedly can travel no faster than 35 mph (56 km/h).
For China, the trip is a way of showing Kim what a communist regime that engages with capitalism can achieve: Bustling cities, a productive countryside, and a populace (largely) content to concentrate on the business of becoming rich (or at least less poor).
For North Korea, it's a clear admission of the indispensable role China plays in the survival of its hard-line regime. The hope may very well be that this show of allegiance will mollify Beijing enough to plead at the UN for some relief of the sanctions against Pyongyang – and to provide some food aid to prop up Kim's regime.
Kim's luxury train comes equipped with satellite telephone, conference rooms, dining cars and sleeping quarters. As shown on North Korean state media, some carriages have pink leather chairs and wide-screen TVs. Not shown: The carriage that, according to South Korean media, holds Kim's personal Mercedes-Benz.
North Korea's leaders love trains. The two previous members of the Kim dynasty had their own love affair with state trains. The first one, Kim Il Sung, regularly traveled abroad on his personal train – as far as Eastern Europe, back in 1984. His son (and the current Kim's father) Kim Jong-il, who ruled from the older Kim's death in 1994 to his own in 2011, even died on his own train. The carriage in which Kim Jong-il expired is on display at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where he lies in state.
The exact itinerary and timetable of (this) Kim's slow train through China is a closely-guarded secret – but bits of his passage through the country have been recorded and posted on social media (here, as the train drives through Zhengzhou, Henan province; and here, in Yongzhou, Hunan province). Some show streets crossing the train's path completely empty, apparently closed off for traffic.
Satellite phones, pink leather chairs and Kim's own private Mercedes-Benz: if you're a Great Leader, you don't travel light - not even by train.Image: Dhaka Tribune
This map shows Kim's most likely itinerary, from the Sino-Korean border at Dandong via Beijing to Zhengzhou and Wuchang, crossing Nanning before arriving at the Vietnamese border at Dong Dang.
Undoubtedly playing havoc with China's decidedly high-speed train schedule, Kim's slow-speed trip is supposed to take about 60 hours (or two and a half days), which means he should arrive at the Sino-Vietnamese border some time on Monday or Tuesday.
Vietnam, wary of Chinese invasion, has a different train gauge than China, so Kim's luxury vehicle can't make it any further without a complex and time-consuming change of wheels. When the Great Leader arrives at the Vietnamese border, he is expected to switch to cars for the last 105 miles (170 km) of the trip to Hanoi.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Britons could start receiving the vaccine within days.
- The U.K. issued emergency authorization Wednesday for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first nation in the West to approve a rigorously tested vaccine.
- The U.S. will meet on December 10 to decide whether to approve Pfizer's vaccine, which achieved an efficacy rate of 90 percent in clinical trials.
- Moderna has also produced a vaccine that could be approved in the U.S. later in December.
Credit: Lubo Ivanko via Adobe Stock<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/medicines-and-healthcare-products-regulatory-agency" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)</a> to approve Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use," said a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care. "This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness."</p><p>Why did the U.K. beat the U.S. and other Western nations to approving the vaccine? The reason lies in the rigorousness of testing on which nations are basing their decisions: The U.K. chose to rely on findings reported by Pfizer itself. Meanwhile, the U.S. is having regulators independently examine raw data behind tests on Pfizer's vaccine.</p><p>F.D.A Commissioner Steve Hahn defended the administration's slower pace on Wednesday during a Facebook live stream.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We have to go through it very carefully," he said, declining to announce a concrete timeline for the potential distribution of the Pfizer vaccine. "All I can tell you is not knowing the data, [it will be] very soon after those meetings. I don't want to get ahead of the data … it wouldn't be the first time that the FDA and Advisory committee has found surprises."</p>
Credit: Pixabay<p>On December 10, the F.D.A. will decide whether to issue emergency approval of the vaccine. If authorized, health systems in the U.S. could receive the first rounds of vaccines on Dec. 15, according to an Operation Warp Speed document obtained by CNN. The document estimated that 22.5 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine will be produced in December.</p><p>Moderna has also produced a COVID-19 vaccine with a high efficacy rate. The F.D.A. will meet Dec. 17 to discuss approving that vaccine, which, like Pfizer's, uses messenger RNA to trigger an immune response. Moderna says its <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/absolutely-remarkable-no-one-who-got-modernas-vaccine-trial-developed-severe-covid-19" target="_blank">vaccine has an efficacy rate of about 94 percent</a>; Pfizer reported a rate of 90 percent. Similar to the U.K., the first Americans to receive COVID-19 vaccines will be the elderly, healthcare workers, and people at risk due to preexisting conditions.</p>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
Puerto Rico's iconic telescope facilitated important scientific discoveries while inspiring young scientists and the public imagination.