dyork: With the wind it was actually -39 Celsius this morning when I woke up. Gotta love Ottawa in January, eh?
As for the last question regarding the US and North Korea, my understanding is that the US can't throw its weight around as much in that situation because of China. In the Middle East, the US has quite a bit of influence through Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel. It can station its forces around Iraq without upsetting the governments in that area (though others, such as Osama bin Laden, took exception to this last time). If the US were to try to station the same amount of troops near North Korea, China would probably start feeling a little frustrated since it fancies itself the superpower to be reckoned with in that part of the world (and therefore doesn't need to be protected by US forces, nor told what to do by them).
Take the above analysis with a grain of salt - I'm not paying full attention to the news these days and I may be well off the mark. Hopefully it's still food for thought.