Connect with us

More Top Stories

Talks with Kim Jong Un would put the prestige of the US and the President’s credibility on the line



Spread the love
Trump, a reality star turned convention busting President, has dubbed Kim “Little Rocket Man” and threatened to rain fire and fury over North Korea, raising fears of a devastating war across the world’s last Cold War frontier.
Kim, a portly 30-something whose state media recently blasted Trump as a “lunatic mean old trickster and human reject” presides over a prison state, purges his foes and has vowed to obliterate the US in a nuclear cloud.
The meeting[1], announced by a South Korean delegation at the White House on Thursday night, would, if it goes ahead, mark an unmatched moment of history in the 70-year standoff between the US and the isolated state.
In the short term, a meeting could defuse the spiraling tensions between the US and North Korea that have raised fears the two nations are on an accelerating slide to a clash that could kill millions on the Korean peninsula.
Trump accepts offer to meet Kim Jong Un

“I think this is a positive step. I think the world is breathing a sigh of relief,” former CIA chief and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CNN, warning intricate diplomatic planning and attention to detail would be required.
Talks would represent a huge risk for Trump, who would be putting the prestige of the United States and his own credibility on the line. So far, there are few signs that he has secured significant returns to justify such a step.
For decades, the Kim dynasty has used diplomatic coercion and brinkmanship twinned with offers of talks and demands for concessions to cheat their way to a nuclear arsenal and preserve a tyrannical regime in defiance of the US.
So there’s a real chance Trump could be walking into a massive trap.
All the times President Trump has insulted North Korea

Concerns about his approach will be magnified by the impulsive way he announced the breakthrough, bursting into the White House briefing room, to tell journalists to expect a major announcement.
Reflecting his craving for affirmation, the excited President told Jon Karl of ABC News, even at this early stage of the process “hopefully, you will give me credit,” offering little sign he appreciates the magnitude of the task he faces.
Top officials in the Pentagon, and even in his own White House were unaware something was afoot until Trump appeared before reporters. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who earlier cautioned that talks with Pyongyang were a distant prospect, was thousands of miles away in Africa.
Trump’s own inexperience in high stakes diplomatic negotiations increases the size of his gamble. Then again, there is no evidence that Kim has ever met another head of state.

Decades of hostility

It is impossible to overestimate the suspicion that exists between North Korea and the US, 70 years after the end of the Korean War, which never officially ended with no formal peace agreement reached.
That’s why many analysts, foreign policy experts and Pentagon officials are skeptical about the meeting, if it goes ahead.
“The chasm of distrust is so great on both sides it will take extraordinary persistence to find a basis upon which both sides can work together,” said Scott Snyder, of the Council on Foreign Relations.
“There is no record of shared accomplishments, we’re starting from scratch in an attempt to overcome over 70 years of animosity.”
Trump and Kim: Where will they meet and what will they say?

The President has so far shown little sign that his vaunted deal making skills have transferred from the real estate business to politics or diplomacy — yet he is taking on one of the most intractable disputes of the last century.
His aides quickly started presenting the initiative as the “Art of the (nuclear) deal.”
“President Trump has made his reputation on making deals,” said one senior administration official. “(Kim) is the one person who is able to make decisions under their authoritarian — or totalitarian system.”
The talks could be a huge political payoff for a President who mired scandal, is viewed with venom around much of the world and is at risk of becoming a one-term President unless he can rescue his sagging popularity.
In the short term, Thursday’s news will distract from the mushrooming scandal of Trump’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels and the relentless march of special counsel Robert Mueller deep into the White House.
There are very high, very scary stakes in the Trump-Kim faceoff

If it goes ahead, Trump’s meeting with Kim would go down in history alongside such diplomatic coups as Richard Nixon’s courting of Mao Zedong’s China.
If it succeeds in significantly lowering tensions it could be worth it in itself and ultimately, a peaceful resolution of the crisis would rate almost as highly as a historic political achievement as the US triumph over the Soviet Union.
Such stakes appeal to Trump’s ego, and he would relish the chance to pull off a diplomatic achievement that none of his predecessors managed.
“This is one of those moments in history when you have to throw the Hail Mary, when you have to give it a shot,” said Harry Kazianis, of the Center for the National Interest.
The invitation from Kim follows a flurry of activity by the North Korean leader, including his decision to send a team to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
It is likely a sign that the most stringent ever sanctions imposed on the North Koreans through the UN Security Council as a result of a US initiative are beginning to bite and impose severe pressure on Kim’s regime.
Just by securing a meeting with Trump, Kim could achieve something North Korea has been seeking for decades — the legitimacy of standing side-by-side with an American President on an equal footing.
A traditional approach to diplomacy would use the carrot of presidential talks to secure serious concessions, like agreements from the North Koreans to halt satellite launches and to allow inspections of its nuclear plants.
Were Trump to give away leverage of his visit for a glorified photo op and fail to secure a pledge beforehand for verifiable denuclearization by Kim, the meeting would be widely portrayed as a failure crushing to US credibility.
Kim is also playing a long game, hoping to remain in power long after Trump is gone, and after a successful period of tests of his nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missiles may now feel a long diplomatic process is in his interests.
After Pyongyang’s most powerful missile test yet, in November, Kim announced that his country had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force,” according to state news service KCNA.
Trump and Kim: Where will they meet and what will they say?

Initial indications were that Trump had agreed to a meeting without getting a tangible payoff from Kim — and intends to handle the process himself. The South Koreans said the talks could take place as soon as May.
Trump’s move recalled his gift to Israel of a huge political win by declaring Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital and pledging to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, without securing anything in return from the Israelis.
All Trump got for his agreement to meet Kim was a vague undertaking for denuclearization from the North Koreans and an agreement to refrain from future missile and nuclear testing — with no guarantees.
Thursday’s announcement also represents a diplomatic triumph for the South Korean government of Moon Jae-in, which Trump recently lashed for appeasing the North. In effect, Seoul has now roped the President into a diplomatic process, forestalling for now, the risk of a pre-emptive US strike.
Moon’s government, elected on a platform of engagement with North Korea, has scored the political victory of delivering on that promise. Seoul has also regained control of the geopolitical dynamics surrounding the tensions on the Korean peninsula, neutralizing Trump’s veiled threats of pre-emptive strikes by coopting him and allowing him to claim credit for potential talks.
But it will take time and work before the US and North Korea can get to the point of negotiating, analysts and officials say. And history indicates that the chances of success may be slim.
“The record of accomplishments as a result of direct talks suggests that if those talks lead to direct negotiations, it will be a very difficult path,” Snyder told CNN.
“Given the alternative, it’s a path that’s logical to pursue, but we just can’t put great hope in it.”


  1. ^ The meeting (

More Top Stories

Houston Recalls Legacy of George Bush, Its Lone Star Yankee and Senior Booster



Spread the love

HOUSTON — Inside the airport that bears his name, George Herbert Walker Bush looks, at a distance, as if he’s wearing a cape.

An 8-foot-tall bronze statue at the Houston airport shows Mr. Bush, who , Barbara Bush[4], who died in April at the age of 92. After Mr. Bush’s death on Friday, Houston lost its two most famous residents in the span of seven months.

“George H.W. Bush served with valor and integrity as the 41st president of the United States,” Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, said in a statement. “But to Houstonians he was one of our most esteemed and relatable neighbors. He and his wife, Barbara Bush, were our sports teams’ biggest fans, and boosters for everything Houston.”

This was the man whose most memorable quote in years had to do with men’s hosiery. In 2012, as his fondness for wearing bright eye-catching socks was going strong, he explained that he simply “likes a good sock.” At his wife’s funeral at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Mr. Bush wore a pair of socks with a colorful stack-of-books design, a tribute to Mrs. Bush’s advocacy work for family literacy.

In Houston and its surrounding suburbs, Mr. Bush had not only an airport in his name but a park, a high school and a few more life-size statues. Above Buffalo Bayou, a bronze statue of Mr. Bush looks out into the distance with his hand in his pocket, gazing at, of all things, James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state and Mr. Bush’s tennis partner at the Houston Country Club. The statues of the two close friends face each other in the downtown park, separated by about 100 yards, in Houston’s oddest and longest-running staring contest.

“All I can do now,” Mr. Bush told The New York Times in 2011 about the statue, “is hope that the pigeons will be kind and gentle.”

Charles C. Foster, a Houston immigration lawyer and a longtime friend of the Bush family, came up with the idea for the George H.W. Bush Monument, which was unveiled in 2004. Mr. Foster recalled the day he sat in Mr. Bush’s office at 10000 Memorial Drive and asked for his blessing for the project.

Mr. Bush in 1970, when he was a congressman.CreditAssociated Press

“He looked at me and he sort of looked up at the ceiling,” Mr. Foster said. “He pointed to the ceiling and said, ‘Shouldn’t you wait until I’m up there?’ And then he said, pointing downward, ‘Or perhaps down there?’”

In 1990, Mr. Bush helped turn the eyes of the world to Houston.

As president, he brought thousands of reporters and foreign dignitaries to Houston that summer for the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations, an annual gathering of the world’s economic powers. The summits had been held in a number of global cities — London, Tokyo, Paris, Venice — and Mr. Bush made the case that his adopted hometown belonged among such world-class company.

Houston was scrappier back then. The city was rebounding from an oil bust in the 1980s that crippled the economy, and it tried hard to present its best, and cleanest, face to the cameras and the visitors, picking up millions of pounds of trash, repaving roads and enlisting the aid of 12,000 volunteers.

“That was huge for Houston,” Mr. Foster said of the 1990 summit. “When the president had a chance, he could have picked some mountain retreat. But he picked his hometown. He was well aware of the chip on our shoulders that we didn’t feel like Houston got the recognition that it should.”

Now, with 2.3 million residents (compared with 1.6 million in 1990), Houston is the fourth-largest city in America, known as much for its diversity as its energy-capital status. George Bush High School, part of the Fort Bend school district, is 43 percent Hispanic, 38 percent black, 12 percent Asian and 4 percent white. More than 90 languages and dialects are spoken in the district.

Early Saturday morning in the upscale Tanglewood area, Houstonians paused at the gates at South Post Oak Lane and North West Oak Drive — the entrance to the gated community where Mr. Bush lived. Someone draped an American flag in the center of the gates, decorated for the holidays with Christmas wreaths.

Shirley Matthews, 66, a lifelong Houstonian who lives nearby, walked up and took a picture of the memorial for her mother. “He was just a good person,” she said. “He wasn’t perfect. But it’s family, and we love each other.”


  1. ^ died at his home here on Friday (
  2. ^ Read the obituary of George H.W. Bush. (
  3. ^ the funeral for his wife (
  4. ^ Barbara Bush (

Continue Reading

More Top Stories

A Close Race, a Mysterious Ballot and Control of Alaska’s House at Stake



Spread the love

With a crucial legislative seat in Alaska teetering toward a tie earlier this month, lawmakers in Juneau braced for the possibility of a coin toss deciding control of the state’s House of Representatives. Then a mysterious extra ballot emerged that threw the process into further disarray.

Amid several counts, the latest coming on Friday afternoon, a single ballot drew scrutiny across the state.

The state’s review board certified the race, between Kathryn Dodge, a Democrat, and Bart LeBon, a Republican, as a tie earlier this week, with exactly 2,661 votes going to each candidate. The extra ballot, for Ms. Dodge, could have settled the race for the Fairbanks-area district seat.

Later on Friday, the mystery appeared to have been solved — but the standoff over who won the election continued.

Samantha Miller, a spokeswoman for the state elections office, said that workers at Fairbanks’s No. 6 precinct told officials that a woman had come into the polling place to request a special needs ballot on behalf of her husband, who was outside in a vehicle.

The woman came back into the precinct. Her husband had made a mistake, she told the precinct worker, and needed a new ballot. She left behind the one he had already marked, thus making it a spoiled ballot.

The precinct chair told the worker who took the spoiled ballot to put it into a secrecy sleeve, “and that they would deal with it later in the day,” Ms. Miller said.

But instead, the spoiled ballot was put into a compartment with other questioned ballots.

Typically, Ms. Miller said, spoiled ballots are destroyed once they are accounted for. So, because the mystery ballot was found to be spoiled, it will not be counted, she said.

Still, that left the question of what happens if the recount that began on Friday afternoon ends in a tie — again.

Ms. Miller said that both candidates had five days to file a legal challenge to the results. And if the court decided the recount went as it should have, and the race was still a tie?

The prevailing candidate would be determined “by lot,” Ms. Miller said. “It could be a coin toss or some other way of deciding, as long as it’s random.”

It would not be the first time an Alaska race was determined by coin toss.

In 2006, State Representative Bryce Edgmon[1], a Democrat from Dillingham, beat the incumbent, Carl Moses. Mr. Moses’s name was drawn, so he got to make the call: Heads.

The state’s elections director at the time flipped an Alaska Mint medallion — the side with a walrus being heads and the side with the state seal being tails. It landed state seal side up.

Ms. Miller would not speculate about when the recount would be complete, but said both candidates were present, along with observers and officials.

Mr. LeBon did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Sara Harriger, a spokeswoman for Ms. Dodge, said in a statement that during Friday’s recount, one additional vote was found for Ms. Dodge and a challenged ballot was allowed for her opponent, Mr. LeBon, which meant that the tally stood at 2,662 apiece. Still tied.

Ms. Dodge said in a statement that she believed every legally cast ballot should be counted. “I just want everyone watching this process to take away a sense of confidence in our democratic system and a commitment to cast their votes in future races,” she said, “and knowing that their votes will matter.”

Ms. Dodge had said earlier on Friday that legal action “unfortunately” seemed probable.

“It’s certainly not what any of us expect when we set out to campaign, to find ourselves in a squeaker of this nature,” she said. “I hope we don’t have a coin toss. I don’t know quite what to say, but it doesn’t feel like it’s an appropriate way to settle an election.”

In Alaska, the repercussions of this race will be felt into the next legislative session, though party control of the House in Juneau will be far from clear-cut.

Political coalitions in Juneau do not always come down to party-line votes like in other state houses. Even if Ms. Dodge wins the race, Democrats would still not have an outright majority, and so members of the House will still be tasked with negotiating a coalition majority.


  1. ^ Bryce Edgmon (

Continue Reading

More Top Stories

3 Killed After Pickup Truck Fleeing Border Patrol Hits Tire Spikes and Crashes



Spread the love

Three people in a packed pickup truck were killed on Thursday afternoon after the driver ran over tire spikes and crashed on a Southern California highway while trying to flee Border Patrol officers, the authorities said.

The officers turned on their vehicle’s emergency lights and began chasing the pickup truck on Interstate 8, near Boulevard, Calif., at around 4:20 p.m., according to the United States Customs and Border Protection. The authorities said they believed that the pickup truck had been illegally driven over the southern border and had crashed through an “iron bar vehicle barrier.” They said they identified it by matching a piece that was missing from the truck to one agents had spotted on the ground near the border, though they did not elaborate.

The pickup truck reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour, weaving between cars and bypassing others on the side of the highway, before it drove over spikes that the Border Patrol had placed on the road, the California Highway Patrol said. About a mile later, the truck spun out of control and flipped over, ejecting the nine people who were riding in the truck’s bed, the authorities said.

A woman inside the truck, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was killed, as were two people riding in the bed, the police said. Seven people who had “multiple serious injuries” were taken to the hospital, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection said.

The driver, a United States citizen whose name was not released, was the only person wearing a seatbelt, the agency said. The California Highway Patrol took the man into custody, but it was not clear whether he had been charged. The identities of the passengers in the truck have not been released either.

“The investigation into the smuggling incident is ongoing,” the spokesman said in an email, “and the Border Patrol is fully cooperating with the CHP in their investigation of the collision.”

About an hour after the crash, the Border Patrol stopped another vehicle that officers believed had crossed over the border with the pickup truck, the agency said. The driver of that car was also arrested.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2017 Breaking News Report