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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The Continious Disrespct of the Japanese People by the U.S military

In two previous blogs, “It’s Time to Shut Down the U.S Marine Base in Okinawa” and “A Followup on Okinawa”, I talked about the ongoing issues regarding the U.S Marine base in the Japanese prefecture and the problems the base is causing the island’s citizens. From crime to propellers and windows falling off of military aircraft flying over peoples’ homes and schools. The U.S government has taken a passive approach on this issue, more or less ignoring the concerns of Okinawans and the Japanese government has maintained the stance that the base is vital for security in the region, but has stated that the U.S military should make some minor changes in regards to flying over populated areas. The government of Okinawa has passed resolutions to have the base closed and has asked for aircraft to cease flying above their towns. These resolutions have been ignored.

Now, as if to add insult to injury a U.S F-16 fighter jet dumped fuel tanks into a lake in the Northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori. The lake is a vital fishing spot for the citizens of the prefecture, especially for clams. The jet took off from the Misawa Air Base in the same prefecture and shortly after an engine fire occurred, resulting in the two fuel tanks being dropped.

Although no injuries were reported, a Japanese fishing boat was 400 meters away, less than a mile. They reported the incident to local authorities long before the U.S made any acknowledgement. The tanks were reported to be 5 meters in length or just over 16 feet. One fisherman who witnessed the incident noted the smell of oil. The incident resulted in an oil slick forming which has, for now, closed the lake to fishing operations until it is determined safe to fish once again. While the fuel tanks were being recovered, the road to the lake was closed by local police. Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura stated that is “regrettable” that the incident has effected clam fishing operations and that the U.S should compensate the fisherman for their losses.

Is it not bad enough when propellers and windows are falling from the sky over peoples’ homes without fuel tanks being dropped into their lakes? The outdated U.S military occupation of Japan has over the course of years, especially the past several months, caused so many problems for the Japanese people, and the U.S government does nothing more than offer apologies but never takes any action to stop flying over populated areas or to close its bases. What would the people of the Aomori prefecture do if their water was so polluted by U.S military accidents and the clams were no longer safe to eat? Would the U.S help them or just apologize? The U.S, in my opinion, has no right to be in Japan and has no right to continuously endanger the lives of Japanese civilians. Again, what would Americans say if a foreign power were doing these things on our soil? We would be angry and demanding change, so why does the U.S continue to ignore the pleas of the people of Japan, continuing their occupation and endangering their lives and livelihoods?

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-16-dumped-fuel-tanks-fishermen-japan-lake-53211100

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/02/20/national/u-s-fighter-jet-dumps-fuel-tanks-aomori-prefecture-lake-engine-fire/

Image retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-fighter-jet-okinawa-japan-fuel-tanks-lake-ogawara-near-fishermen/

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/

A Breakdown of the Nunes Memo and What it Taught Us

Since the Nunes Memo has been released, the Republicans have been holding it up in every House and Senate discussion, on every Sunday morning news show as definitive proof that the probe into President Trump’s ties to Russia is nothing more than a smear tactic or as the President himself has called it, “a witch hunt” by the Democrats and their bitterness over the fact that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. As far as I can tell, the memo doesn’t prove that Trump or any of his aides had any communication with Russian officials or Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, nor does it prove that Trump didn’t have Russia’s assistance.  However; the memo does tell us a few things.

  1. Campaigns and political parties hire people to dig up dirt. This may not be new information to anyone nor would it be any surprise if it is. According to the memo, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton Campaign, along with  Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS paid Christopher Steele, a longtime FBI informant over $160,000 to compile a derogatory dossier on Donald Trump during the campaign.
  2. The FBI is fair when informants break the rules and this is evident when Steele was fired as an informant when he disclosed to the media his relationship with the FBI in a Mother Jones article by David Corn, as the memo states. Nunes argued that this firing was biased as Steele should have been fired earlier for disclosing information to Yahoo news and other outlets in September and for concealing his speaking with the media from the FBI. Nunes argues in the memo that is it for this reason that Steele was an unreliable source as he broke the unbreakable rule of “maintaining confidentiality”.
  3. Those who work in the DOJ have opinions too as is evident according to the memo as then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein was Steele’s connection to the DOJ after his termination. Nunes claims that shortly after the election, Ohr began to document his communications with Steele and admitted in September 2016, he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not, being president.” At the same time, Ohr’s wife was paid by Fusion GPS to assist in the opposition to Trump and Nunes states that this fact was concealed from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court  (FISC).
  4. The FBI didn’t try to hide anything from Trump as before he even took office then- FBI Director James Comey briefed the President-elect on the Steele-dossier and even testified in June 2017 that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.” To this point, Nunes argues that the FISA either ignored or concealed Steele’s anti-Trump “financial and ideological motivations”.
  5. FBI agents have preferences in who they would like to be President as shown in the text messages between FBI agent Pete Strzok and his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page as they showed that they were both opposed to Trump and that they favored Hillary Clinton however: Strozk also investigated Clinton. He may have had a preference but he did investigate the candidate that he favored—what got him in hot water was that he and Page had extensive discussions about the investigation,  plans to leak to the media and to have a ” meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an ‘insurance’ policy against President Trump’s election”.

The only thing that seems to be wrong is how the investigation initially started out, and that was the fact that according to the memo “On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received an ISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC”. The memo claims that at first the application was certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI and was followed up with approval by “the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division”. Nunes argues that the three renewals of the surveillance which are to occur every 90 days and requires new findings for probable cause did not take place and that then-Director Comey signed off on three, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one and Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein also signed one all on behalf of the FBI. The memo states that this violates ISA rules for surveillance on American citizens which Carter Page is. He was also an unpaid aide to Trump during the campaign. I don’t think that this shows bias towards Trump from the DOJ or FBI. What it does show is that everyone has an opinion and that procedure was not followed, not due to opposition to Trump but the FBI not following protocol.

Again, the memo does not prove that Trump is guilty of working with Russia to win the election, nor does it show that he’s innocent. What it does show is negligence on behalf of the FBI and that the Republicans will use any little detail that comes to the surface to defend Trump and that the blame game from both sides is only beginning in Washington. The only thing that will tell us whether or not Trump worked with the Russians to steal the election is the results of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller.

You can read all 4 pages of the memo here: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/02/politics/fbi-nunes-memo-full/index.html

Image Source retreived from nbcnews.com

Why Millennials overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders

First and foremost, I must start off by saying that I knew who Bernie Sanders was long before he announced that he was running for president. I guess you can say this is due to the fact that from a very young age, I have been interested in politics. I’ve followed every election closely for many years, voted in every single election since the day I became 18 years old, and in junior high school when all of the guys my age were into cars and sports, I was into politics, government, and elections. This would explain why I studied Justice Studies (a focus on social justice) and Political Science in college. I must also make it clear that I am a Millennial, a generation which researchers place as being born between the years of 1980 and 1995.

In this current election cycle, Millennials have come out in huge numbers to support Senator Bernie Sanders for president over Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Now, I supported Sanders since he announced his candidacy for president because he is much more aligned with my views then Clinton. But there is a reason as to why so many Millennials are flocking to support Sanders, and I didn’t even realize this until I heard it on a segment on the Ring of Fire radio program on WCPT out of Chicago. This not only explained why so many Millennials are behind Senator Sanders, but also allowed myself to see why I am behind him. I am going to share these reasons with you and I’m sure that many of my fellow Millennials will find that they agree. We are tired of the slow progress, we want that rapid change Obama promised us, and we believe Senator Sanders will deliver.

First, there is the issue of the economy. Under the Obama Administration, the economy has made a strong comeback and is stronger than it was at any point under the Administration of George W. Bush however; it is far weaker than it was at many periods throughout history. As Millennials, we find ourselves at the disadvantage of suffering from the mistakes and the greed of previous generations. When Reagan became president in 1980, he wasted no time in deregulating Wall St allowing not only greed in the financial capital of the world, but in the banking industry and in the corporate world as well. Reagan also gave the rich huge tax breaks which of course always means that the middle and lower classes are stuck with paying that extra burden. Presidents George HW Bush, Clinton, and George W Bush all further deregulated Wall St and gave tax cuts to the rich. Under Clinton, the economy was strong because of the Internet Bubble, but when that burst, the economy sank and the passing of NAFTA which was essentially corporate welfare, allowing for corporations to outsource jobs for cheap labor putting millions of Americans out of work, certainly did not help matters. TPP is NAFTA Asia which Senator Sanders opposes and Secretary Clinton refuses to give an opinion on. Finally, as Millennials, we find ourselves as the generation most impacted now and in the future from George W Bush’s trillions of dollars spent on war in the Middle East, especially in Iraq which we know was a war based entirely on lies. Our generation will be paying that off. With that said, Bernie Sanders supports regulating Wall St once again and taxing the rich and not giving them breaks and loopholes which allow them to not only pay far less then working class people, but also would prevent them from hiding money overseas so that it cannot be taxed. That is why so many Millennials support Senator Sanders on economic issues. Secretary Clinton seems reluctant to regulate Wall St and tax the rich. She also seems hesitant to make a stand against the Citizens United ruling which Senator Sanders opposes and intends on overturning. In my opinion, this is because Secretary Clinton has too many ties to those institutions and does not want to upset some of her largest donors and supporters. Millennials do not want another crash like we had 2008, and preventing Wall St and banking greed, would prevent such a crash.

Secondly, there is the matter of college tuition which has skyrocketed over the past several decades. Millennials are hit hard by this as well, for we now hold more college loan debt than any other generation in history since the college loan program came to be in the 1960’s. We currently hold approximately 3.1 trillion dollars in student loan debt, and the default rate on those student loans continues to climb because we are having trouble finding jobs in our fields of study and are forced to not only be stuck working low paying jobs, but find ourselves unable to pay back our loans and buy houses, cars etc. We are stuck living at home and not contributing to the economy or all that much to society. Senator Sanders not only wants to make college education free as it is in pretty much every country in the Western Hemisphere especially Europe, but he wants to at least start off by making community college free. He also wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour which is still not exactly a living wage but is much better than the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Clinton has stated that she would not raise the minimum wage to more than $12 an hour and doesn’t agree with free college. As Millennials, we want good paying jobs in our fields of study, we want a minimum wage that we can live on, we want to move out of our parents’ homes and buy our own houses, and contribute to society. We want this future for our children. We can have that under a Sanders Administration, and we can pay for it as Senator Sanders has said by taxing the rich, taxing the corporations, and by taxing Wall St speculation. Secretary Clinton will tell you that Senator Sanders has no way of paying for this, let alone a plan,  but I just gave you his plan which he himself has stated, it is also available on his website. We also want free health care like every other major, industrialized country offers their citizens and again, we pay for it through the above mentioned ways. The Affordable Care Act was a start, but let’s face it. The ACA allows a handful of major insurance corporations to not only dictate the market but to control the prices. This allows them to raise prices and premiums just because they feel like it, and the pharmaceutical companies intentionally raise prices, not caring what impact it has on the middle class and the poor in order to make themselves wealthy. Senator Sanders believes that this is wrong as do many Millennials, but Secretary Clinton seems to be okay with the current corporate dominated system.

Finally, there is this whole matter of Sanders claiming that he is not part of the establishment. I have to say that he is, for he has been in politics for 30  plus years, when you are in politics, you are a part of the establishment whether you like it or not. What I believe Senator Sanders means when he says that he is not part of the establishment is that he is not one who goes along with the crowd, as Secretary Clinton always seemed to do in her political career. Senator Sanders has stood against Wall St, the Federal Reserve, stood up to Goldman Sachs, and criticized our country rushing into war and getting involved in quagmires. Secretary Clinton has supported our rush to war, has received massive campaign contributions from Wall St, has never stood up to the Federal Reserve, and has been paid massive amounts of money to give speeches to firms such as Goldman Sachs, and she refuses to release the transcripts of these speeches. This is really making us wonder. Secretary Clinton, when she was a Senator supported the Iraq War and continues to support having large number of Americans troops on the ground in the Middle East. Senator Sanders voted against the Iraq War and does not support having a large number of American troops fighting the battles of the Middle Eastern nations, but instead supports the idea of having enough of a presence to train the troops of these countries to fight their own battles. Too many Millennials have seen somebody who we went to high school with go off to one of these unjust wars of this century and come home in a body bag, and we’re not entirely happy.  We also want green technology for the planet has been heavily damaged by the years and years of using fossil fuels, and we are the generation that is stuck with that burden for decades to come.

These are the reasons that so many Millennials support Sanders over Clinton for president. We believe that he is for us and for the working class, while Clinton supports more of a corporate America. I do not want you to think that I will not vote for Secretary Clinton if she gets the nomination, because I will vote for her. Even though I think we will be better under a President Bernie Sanders than a President Hillary Clinton, we would be better of with either of these two than we would under any potential Republican candidate, for they would allow HUGE tax breaks for the rich, for the corporations, and would continue to wage unjust wars throughout the world. Not to mention that the progress that we have made over these past eight years will washed away in a matter of seconds under a Republican president, along with a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body, and the Christian religion being forced down our throats, undermining our Constitutional right to freedom of religion. So, I want my fellow Millennials and everybody else to continue to support Senator Sanders or at least consider it, and if he doesn’t get the nomination, do vote for Secretary Clinton because a Republican president is not going to be in the least bit interested in our generation or  in our generation’s future. Also, vote in every election, a president is powerless if he or she doesn’t have a Congress to back them up as we have seen with the Republicans refusing to even negotiate with President Obama to make even the smallest amount of progress. VOTE VOTE VOTE AND MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL VOTE INFORMED.