The Edge Update: Alaska megaproject, cyber warfare against North Korea, French election and the end of the EU

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

The Edge Update can be heard every weekday on KRUA 88.1 FM The Edge, UAA’s college radio station.

Local:

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is asking the commander-in-chief to get behind a $45 billion Alaska gas pipeline megaproject as part of President Donald Trump’s plan to spend $1 trillion on the nation’s infrastructure. The request was parceled together in a letter with several other requests, including requests for federal tax exemptions, reduced federal oversight and billions in federal loan guarantees. All of which would remove roadblocks and help speed the project along. If approved, the Alaska LNG project would sell reserves of North Slope gas to Asian utilities. The letter was dated to Feb. 7. As of Friday, the administration had not responded to the letter.

National:

A New York Times investigation has uncovered a secretive cyber-operation by the U.S. government that for years derailed North Korea’s missile program. Three years ago, amid growing concerns about the DPRK’s intercontinental missiles, President Barack Obama ordered the Pentagon to increase cyber and electronic efforts to sabotage test launches. Not long after, North Korea’s missiles began flying in the wrong direction, falling into the sea and exploding in midair. Those who support these measures describe them as the cutting edge of antimissile defenses, crediting them with delaying North Korea’s ability to launch nuclear weapons at American cities by several years. Others are skeptical, crediting the failed missile tests to shoddy manufacturing and incompetence. After extensive research, including interviews with several officials from the current and previous administrations, the New York Times concluded that the United States still does not have adequate technology to defend itself from North Korean nuclear and missile programs. They are enough of a danger that Barack Obama, as he left office, warned Trump that they would be the greatest problem of his presidency.

Global:

On Sunday, ten of thousands gathered in Paris for a rally to support Francois Fillon. As recently as last week, he was the frontrunner in France’s presidential election. Now, a scandal has thrown the election wide open, potentially spelling the end of the European Union. In January, judicial investigators decide to investigate the former prime minister on the potential misuse of public funds after a newspaper revealed he had employed his own family for decades at a cost of hundreds of thousands of euros. It does not appear that his family members did any work. The scandal has left Fillon’s party, the center-right Republicans, without a solid candidate. Polls now indicate the race will ultimately be decided between liberal Emmanuel Macron and populist Marine Le Pen. Of particular concern to observers is Le Pen, leader of the National Front, a party with roots in neo-Nazism. Although now cleansed of fascistic imagery, the NF still espouses shutting down mosques identified as radical, banning Muslim items of dress and almost entirely stopping immigration into France. Perhaps most impactfully, Le Pen wishes to hold a referendum on whether France should remain in the EU. If France were to leave, it would combine with the recent loss of Britain to spell the end of the union.