Trump meets Kim Jong Un. What will happen?

From the day Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, he has not been short on words when it comes to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, going as far as calling him “little rocket man” before the UN General assembly which prompted Kim to call Trump a “dotard”. For years the Kim family has requested a face-to-face meeting with a sitting U.S president but has been denied due to its refusal to cease its nuclear program and for various human rights violations. But now, the president who has labeled himself as “the dealmaker” will be the first sitting U.S President to meet with any North Korean leader since the Korean War ended in 1953 and the discussion will be denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula. Whatever the result of this meeting is, it will be crucial to global security and stability as well as an important moment in history.

The President’s decision to meet with Kim was sudden and has not come without criticism from his opponents who claim that he’s doing it for show. Others believe that the president shouldn’t meet with Kim until he shows that he is willing to put an end to his nuclear program and end the human rights violations that are taking place in the country. Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren stated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” “Before they get that kind of prize, we should insist that they make some real changes, verifiable changes to their programs”. The administration maintains the position that the meeting is not about theatrics or about Trump getting attention but that it is strictly business.  On the meeting, Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said of Trump, “He’s going to solve a problem”. Pompeo also stated on CBS’s “Face the Nation” “This administration has its eyes wide open, and the whole time this conversation takes place the pressure will continue to mount on North Korea”.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fear that Kim is setting a trap for President Trump and luring him into something. Analysts believe Kim is trying to sweet talk Trump into easing some of the sanctions the U.S and its allies have put on the country and Senator Elizabeth Warren stated that she fears Kim is going to try and take advantage of Trump. Even South Korean officials who are reaching out to China and Japan to take part in the talks are doubtful that anything will come of the meeting and that Kim is going to try and “cheat” Trump. Kim’s late father and former leader of the reclusive nation, Kim Jong Il cheated and fooled the administrations of Clinton and George W. Bush and Kim Jong Un fooled Obama. Whether Kim is attempting to blow smoke and buy time to farther his nuclear program and ease sanctions or is sincerely dedicated to peace talks and putting an end to his nuclear intentions, the outcome will be important. On the issue, the president said while at a Republican Congressional rally, “Hey, who knows what’s going to happen? I may leave fast or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world.”

Earlier in the year, Trump promised, “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” if North Korea doesn’t give up its nuclear program and put an end to its aggression in the region, although I am against war unless it is undoubtedly the only solution and keeping in mind that preemptive strikes never work out well, case-in-point, Iraq, Trump must stick to that threat and not back down to the dictator. With 40,000 U.S troops in Japan and another 35,000 in South Korea, not to mention submarines and aircraft carriers in the waters, it would be suicide for Kim to seek armed conflict. Trump must let Kim know that unless he can prove to the U.S and to the world that he is putting an end to his nuclear program that the pressure, the sanctions and the military exercises with South Korea and Japan will continue. Trump must also put pressure on China, North Korea’s biggest ally and get them on board with the idea of a North Korea without nukes. Trump must also not allow Russia to interfere as Putin likes to do when it comes to U.S foreign policy. Lawmakers from both parties are skeptical of Trump’s ability to reach any real deal with Kim as he has failed to win any major legislative victories at home, aside from a tax cut despite his party having the majority in both houses of Congress. Others believe that because the President talks more than seeking action on issues such as gun control, that things will be no different with Kim.

Whatever happens, Trump will have to keep his cool and keep his eyes and ears open for Kim’s tricks. He must not back down and he mustn’t let Kim get the upper hand. Trump says he wants “good deals for America”, now is his chance to get one not only for the U.S but for the world. I myself am doubtful not because I don’t have confidence in Trump’s ability to make something happen but because I don’t trust Kim, but if Trump by some miracle walks out of this with a denuclearized North Korea, it may be one of the greatest foreign policy success stories in American history. It will bring a sense of security to the U.S and to the Northeast region of Asia as well as the world. We can only know for sure after the meeting takes place.

Note: At the time of this writing, it’s been reported that President Trump fired U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson due to disagreements over the Iran Nuclear Deal and how to go about the talks with North Korea. Trump claims that he and Tillerson “got along well” but couldn’t come to an agreement on these matters. Tillerson learned of his firing as it was being reported by the Washington Post Tuesday, March 13, 2018, and via Trump’s tweet regarding the matter. Trump plans to nominate CIA Director Pompeo for Secretary of State.

Image retrieved from:  http://abcnews.go.com/International/analysis-president-trump-kim-jong-insults-talks/story?id=53654338

Image result for trump tweet on tillerson firing

http://matzav.com/report-tillerson-learns-of-his-dismissal-via-trumps-tweet/

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Enough is Enough. It’s time to seriously discuss guns

These days, it seems to be the norm in the United States that every week there is another mass shooting. Whether it’s at a concert in Las Vegas, a nightclub or a most horrific of all, schools. I for one am sickened by the violence that has consumed American society and the lack of interest by our lawmakers to take action. How many people, especially children have to die before those in Washington, including the President, start to take gun violence seriously?

Now I am by no means anti 2nd Amendment because there are a lot of good and law-abiding citizens who responsibly and legally own guns. They use them to hunt or for recreation at the shooting range and in some cases, they use them to defend their homes from intruders. The problem in itself is not guns, it is that it is too easy to get them. In states such as Texas, one only has to go to a gun show, put the cash down on the table and have a gun and we’re not talking about handguns and rifles, we’re talking about military-grade weaponry that was created to kill large numbers of people in a very short amount of time, case, and point, the AR-15 which has been used in numerous shootings as of late including the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The most disgusting issue with gun violence is that the NRA refuses to admit that there is a problem and consistently touts that more guns would make our children safer. They refuse to advocate for the ban on assault weapons and are playing along with the right-wing politicians, President Trump included and right-wing based media outlets who accuse those who want something done as “communists” or “socialists” and other words that they can’t even define without consulting Google. What sickens me, even more, is that the NRA attacks the kids who survived the most recent shooting and the grieving families who lost their child and are now demanding that something be done as paid pawns of “the left”. These people are not being paid, they are both sad and angry and for NRA President, Wayne LaPierre to talk down to these people goes to show you what kind of person he is and I guarantee you, that if somebody shot up the school that he kids attend, he would be singing a different tune, and if not, then there’s something seriously wrong with the guy. Even Republican Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio talked down to his constituents in a recent town hall meeting saying that “there are those who support my agenda” when asked if he would not take campaign donations from the NRA. What agenda are you supporting Mr. Rubio? Death?

For better or for worse, guns are a part of American culture and that is not likely to change anytime soon. But what we can change is the process of buying guns by making it difficult for those who are mentally ill and show signs of malice to purchase guns and to put an end to the legality of being able to buy and own military-grade weapons which NO civilian needs to have. The truth is that we can make guns more difficult to get, but at the end of the day it is just as easy to get them illegally as it is drugs on the streets. So until we are able to have a serious discussion about this issue and put life before politics and find a way to regulate gun purchases, tackle organized crimes on our streets, and stop listening to the propaganda of the NRA, more people including children are going to die. And with every shooting and the continuous lack of lawmakers including the President to care aside from eating from the gun lobby’s hand and wanting to arm teachers and janitors and turn our schools into war zones, the rest of the world will continue to view the United States as a country full of savages and that is not how I want my country to seen.

A Followup on Okinawa

On February 1 I wrote a piece on this blog about the growing controversy over the U.S Marine base in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. That piece detailed the history of the base and the poor behavior and criminal acts of U.S Marines and staff stationed at the base over the years, as well as the recent accidents involving U.S aircraft that puts the residents of the prefecture in danger. I mentioned that the Japanese people want the base to be closed and that the base should be closed based on the grounds of Japanese sovereignty. However; it is unlikely that the base will be shut down due to the Trump Administration’s tough stance on North Korea. Recently there have been talks between the U.S and Japanese governments to relocate the base but in the midst of these talks, more aircraft accidents have taken place.

On February 9 a large piece of a U.S Osprey (photo of this craft is the featured image of this article) was found drifting near the prefecture by local police and the Japanese Defense Ministry bureau.  Not long after its discovery, the U.S Marine Corps confirmed that it was, in fact, part of an engine inlet which fell off of the tilt-rotor aircraft as it was in flight. The piece weighs just over 28 pounds or 13 kg. Once again, the prefectural government has asked the U.S to keep the MV-22 Osprey aircraft grounded. This particular craft belonged to U.S Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa’s main island.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told Japanese media that he believes the U.S military may have known about the situation prior to the inlet being discovered by Japanese officials as the Osprey in question made an emergency landing on the island that day. Later in the day, the U.S military had admitted that the landed Osprey had lost the piece in question.  Masanori Tamaki, 61, the head of the Ikei residents’ association, told the Japanese Times, “The same thing will happen again and again as long as our airspace is controlled by the U.S. military. Is Japan really an independent state?” This, of course, is not the only incident involving an Osprey as of late. The aircraft is also very noisy which is a nuisance to the prefecture’s residents.

NHK World reported that it is occurrences such as this that led to the Okinawa prefectural assembly to unanimously pass a resolution that calls for the U.S military to cease all flights over private property. The resolution also calls for any accidents to be publicized and that the U.S military should be removed completely from the country. The prefectural assembly will be sending the resolution to the US embassy, the US military in Japan, and the commanders at the Futenma base.

Relocation

On February 4 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that he plans on going ahead with the controversial move to relocate the U.S Marine base from Futenma to nearby Nago which has a population of 60,000. The call from Abe to move ahead with this plan comes after the election of Nago Mayor  Taketoyo Toguchi who was backed by Abe’s ruling party and has supported the plan. Toguchi took office on February 4 defeating his opponent, incumbent Susumu Inamine who opposed the relocation of the base and called for its closure. The Nikkei Asian Review reported that exit polls showed that 30 percent of Nago voters were against the base being moved to their city, but may have voted for Toguchi due to the fact that they are exhausted and tired of fighting a losing battle to oppose it.

Calling for a nation’s sovereignty and the removal of a foreign military is difficult when the country’s own government is in favor, for whatever reasons of that military remaining and when the country’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the base’s relocation in 2016. The Japanese and American governments are not listening to the wishes of the people who call the island home and whether or not Japan is a sovereign nation due to the decade’s old American occupation still remains a question.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/02/10/national/part-u-s-osprey-found-floating-off-okinawa/#.WoXrgiXwbIV

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180119_18/

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Okinawa-local-election-signals-fatigue-toward-fighting-new-base

image retrieved from http://www.boeing.com/defense/v-22-osprey/

As a writer, what do I read?

books

According to the quote website, goodreads.com, horror author Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. It’s as simple as that.” As much as I agree with Mr. King’s statement, I often find it difficult to read and write as much as I would like. Before it was a matter of completing my Bachelor’s degree and my workload was plenty as a double major. Now, it seems that as I am working more and preparing to pick up my entire life and move across the country in a little less than two months, I am again finding it difficult to find the time to do the two things that I love in life, read and write. I talk a lot about carving out more time for these two things, but I end up failing miserably. Anyway, I thought that it would be fun to share with you what I as a writer enjoy reading.

I mostly write Science Fiction. I do have some ideas for mainstream fiction which have never seen life beyond the pages of the notebooks where I write down all of my ideas, and of course one day, after I have earned my PhD and am teaching college for a while, I intend on writing non-fiction based on my research as well. As an author who mainly writes Science Fiction, I do not limit myself to only reading that genre. When I do read Science Fiction it’s usually the classic authors such as Philip K. Dick, Issac Asimov, H.G Wells, and for modern authors, I really enjoy the work of John Scalzi. For fiction, again, I resort to the classics. I’m a big fan of Steinbeck.

I am also a sucker for history. I very much like books that highlight a specific historical event, whether that event took place in here in the United States or in Ancient China, history simply fascinates me. Not only do I draw ideas from history for my writing, but I also think that it’s a good idea to have a good sense of history because as they say, those who don’t know it, are doomed to repeat it. I also very much enjoy biographies. Currently, I have three books which are biographies of Lyndon Johnson that are next in line on my list, one of which I am reading currently. When I need a quick read, say right before bed or I’m waiting somewhere for something, I Google random celebrities or people who have made some sort of significant difference in the world and read about their lives on Wikipedia, as factual as Wikipedia can be which I take with a grain of salt. If I’m not in the mood to read about somebody’s life, I Google a random topic that interests me, for example; recently I Googled and read the Wikipedia article about Alcatraz. I guess that makes sense seeing that I’ll be moving to California very soon.

I am also a political junkie, thus the reason one of my majors as an undergrad was Political Science and this is the subject in which I will be obtaining my PhD in, I also strongly believe that it is important for all people to stay informed about what is going on not only in their own country, but all over the world. For you cannot make a decision at the ballot box if you are misinformed even though I might tell you that you are wrong on a certain issue, I will never tell you not to vote even if I don’t agree with whom you’re voting for. So, I take it upon myself to read news articles about current events and public policy again, taking with a grain of salt what the American media tells me. I also enjoy reading the blogs of my fellow authors/writers. It’s always fun to see what they are working on, or what their perspective of a particular topic is, and just to see the difference in writing style between my own and theirs. From doing this, I have come to realize that even though we all follow the grammar and punctuation rules that come with the English language, not a single one of us writes exactly the same and that is the beauty of writing.

As you can see, as a writer, I read almost everything. It’s as Stephen King said, if you don’t read, you don’t have the tools to write. To say the least, I’m glad that I was the guy who never partied in high school and only went to I think one school dance, skipping out on prom mostly because it didn’t interest me and use that time to read, read, and to write. Now if I could just find the time to write more and get some things published which I intend on doing at first independently, then I’ll feel much better.

My fellow writers or non-writers but book junkies, I ask you, what do you read?