U.S. Senator Bob Corker told reporters during a visit to Memphis last week that he is concerned not only about North Korea's recent nuclear saber-rattling but also about an increase in a desire for nuclear armaments among the populations of neighboring nations allied to the United States.
Corker said such views were becoming prevalent in Japan and South Korea — not in government circles — but in the populations of those nations. "They want to consider for themselves, or at least to think about adding nuclear armaments of their own to their military, which obviously we don't want to see," said the senator, who has recently consulted with government leaders in those nations.
Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said polls had indicated that "about 60 percent" of the citizens of South Korea were interested in developing a nuclear component. "When you've got a country just north of you that's continuing to make these threats, you can imagine the impact that it's having on the citizens in the country that's adjacent that's being threatened."
The American military complement, consisting of 28,500 American soldiers, is ready for action if North Korea should follow through on its public threats of war against both South Korea and the United States, Corker said. But the U.S. military command is most concerned, not over direct action from the north, but that "some little thing, some little incident, gets out of control, and all of a sudden you've got something that you can't stop."
• Not only library cards but student IDs, which were originally okayed, turned out to be casualties in this year's revision of Photo ID legislation (SB 125) by state Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro).
In final consideration by the state Senate last week, the bill, which had the student-ID provision stripped in House debate, was concurred in by the Senate and is ready to be signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam.
State Senator Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) gave it the old college try during final Senate debate. "All the photo ID does is verify that you are the person who registered to vote," Kyle said. "We sometimes seem to be confusing the idea of having a photo ID and the right to go vote. You don't have a right to go vote unless you have registered to vote and have met the criteria of registration to vote."
Kyle was supported in his defense of student IDs by state Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), but sponsor Ketron had already consented to the amended House version, and that's the version that passed.
• The Shelby County Democratic Party, fully mindful of the weakness of the party statewide but determinedly optimistic about local election prospects in 2014, held its biennial party convention Saturday at Airways Middle School and emerged with a new executive committee and a new chairman, Bryan Carson.
Two other candidates, Terry Spicer and Jennings Bernard, did some head-counting during the course of the morning and, realizing they couldn't win, deferred to Carson when it came time for nominations.
Carson, the son of longtime party eminence Gale Jones Carson and lead supervisor of an epidemiology work section at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, was then elected by acclamation. He hailed his rivals' actions as presenting an opportunity for unity.
Before caucusing and voting by state House district started, the crowd was warmed up by 9th District congressman Steve Cohen, who emphasized what he said were the opportunities for Democrats in next year's elections and advised the delegates to stand by the party's principles.
Scorning the idea of "reaching out" too much in efforts to compromise with Republicans, Cohen got off a zinger: "Neville Chamberlain reached out to Hitler. It doesn't work!"
Outgoing chairman Van Turner received a plaque of appreciation for his efforts during four years at the party helm.