Pompeo in Pyongyang seeks progress on NKorea nuke commitment
By ANDREW HARNIK
Friday, July 6
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met for nearly three hours Friday with a top North Korean official in Pyongyang to nail down specifics of commitments on denuclearization made at President Donald Trump’s summit with leader Kim Jong Un last month.
Pompeo has the crucial task of dispelling growing skepticism over how serious Kim is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following the June 12 summit into concrete action.
It’s his third trip to the North Korean capital in as many months, and his first since the summit. At the top of his meeting with Kim Yong Chol, a senior ruling party official and close aide to North Korea’s leader, Pompeo quipped about his frequent visits.
“I was joking that if I come one more time, I will have to pay taxes here,” the top U.S. diplomat said.
Kim, who has been something of a point man on Washington negotiations for Kim Jong Un, said: “The more you come, more trust we can build between one another.”
Their talks lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes. They were held at a state guesthouse complex located a short drive from the gargantuan mausoleum where North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung and his successor Kim Jong Il lie in state.
Pompeo was expected to hold further meetings on Saturday. It was not clear whether any progress was made in Friday’s discussions and whether Pompeo would be meeting directly with Kim Jong Un, as he had done on his previous visits.
On the flight to Pyongyang, Pompeo said both sides made commitments at the Singapore summit on the complete denuclearization of North Korea and on what a transformed relationship between their two countries might look like.
“On this trip, I’m seeking to fill in some details on these commitments and continue the momentum toward implementation of what the two leaders promised each other and the world. I expect that the DPRK is ready to do the same,” Pompeo said, using the initials for North Korea’s official name.
One hoped-for breakthrough would be the return of the remains of U.S. troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea committed at the summit to the “immediate repatriation” of remains already identified, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Just before Pompeo’s arrival, the North’s state-run media lobbed a warning shot at Washington over its criticism of the North’s human rights record.
The criticism, published on North Korea’s government-run Uriminzokkiri website, said Washington should stop provoking the North with an “anachronistic human rights racket” at a time of diplomatic attempts to improve ties.
What position it will take on the nuclear issue appears to be anything but a done deal.
Doubts over the North’s intentions have grown amid reports it is continuing to expand facilities related to its nuclear and missile programs and that U.S. intelligence is skeptical about its intentions to give up its weapons.
Speaking aboard Air Force One on a trip to Montana, Trump said Thursday he still believes Kim will follow through and said he forged a personal connection with the young autocrat he once pilloried as “Little Rocket Man.”
“I think we understand each other. I really believe that he sees a different future for North Korea,” Trump told reporters. “I hope that’s true. If it’s not true, then we go back to the other way, but I don’t think that’s going to be necessary.”
Trump needs Pompeo to score some points to lay to rest doubts over whether the president, who has already ordered a suspension of large-scale U.S. military drills with South Korea, is hurting the bigger goal of complete denuclearization by being overeager to claim a quick success.
What exactly Washington has in mind, however, isn’t entirely clear.
National security adviser John Bolton, who has expressed hardline views on North Korea, said last weekend that Pompeo will present Pyongyang with a plan to complete the dismantling of the North’s nuclear and missile programs in one year.
On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert walked that back, declining to give a timeline.
Pyongyang is Pompeo’s first stop on his first around-the-world trip as America’s top diplomat. He will then travel to Japan, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates before heading to Belgium, where he will accompany Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels.
AP Pyongyang bureau chief Eric Talmadge, in Tokyo, and writer Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
Top Six House & Senate Farm Bill Differences – And What They Mean For Ohioans
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown
Every five years, the Farm Bill garners wide bipartisan support as members of both the Republican and Democratic parties come together to provide our farmers, families, and rural communities the certainty and support they need. Ohioans depend on the Farm Bill to support farming, protect Lake Erie, spur economic development in rural Ohio, and feed hungry families.
“This bipartisan bill is good for farmers, good for families, good for taxpayers, good for jobs, and good for Lake Erie,” Brown said. “This bill is big win for Ohio, and it’s the product of a long, bipartisan process, working with farmers and stakeholders over the past year.”
According to a 2017 Ohio State University report on the “Economic Contribution of Agricultural and Food Production to the Ohio Economy,” Ohio’s agricultural and food production sector accounts for $1 in every $13 of the state’s GSP, and 1 in 8 jobs in Ohio.
The Senate is expected to consider its version of the Farm Bill this week, after the Senate Agriculture Committee passed its bipartisan version earlier this month. As the first Ohioans to serve on the Senate Ag Committee in 50 years, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown helped secure key provisions for Ohioans in the bill. At the same time, the House narrowly passed an unprecedented, hyper-partisan bill last week – even after it failed the first time earlier this month – that would hurt Ohio communities.
Here are the Top 6 House And Senate Farm Bill Differences – And What They Mean For Ohioans:
Protecting Lake Erie
SENATE BILL: Maintains existing funding levels and includes provisions from Brown’s water quality improvement bill, the Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act, to protect and improve water quality in Lake Erie
· This legislation would improve water quality in Lake Erie and across Ohio by prioritizing federal investments to improve water quality and soil health. These efforts will improve federal conservation programs and better support Ohio farmers by reforming the three largest conservation funding programs to protect waterways while expanding access to quality farmland.
· Prioritizes CRP and EQIP funding on practices and sensitive lands to reduce runoff and protect drinking water.
HOUSE BILL: Cuts land and water quality conservation efforts by nearly $1 billion
· The House version of the Farm Bill calls for slashing conservation funding by nearly $1 billion. This would harm farmers and greatly threaten Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Marys, and the Ohio River, the source of drinking water for millions of Ohioans.
· Brown has long fought to secure investments in conservation programs that allow farmers to prevent runoff and protect water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. During a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing in March, Brown told Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue that the USDA cannot walk away from the programs farmers have been using to improve water quality across Western Ohio and on Lake Erie.
Supporting Small- and Medium- Sized Farms
SENATE BILL: Makes improvements to dairy programs, protects and expands crop insurance, and provides opportunities for veterans and beginning farmers to make farming a full-time career
· The Senate Farm Bill replaces the Margin Protection Program (MPP) with the Dairy Risk Coverage program in order to better target support for small- and medium-sized producers. This new MPP would invest an additional $100 million to improve affordability, flexibility, and effectiveness for Ohio dairy farmers.
· The bill also protects and expands crop insurance to help farmers’ cover crops that are not covered by insurance to give them more relief and security. It also improves access to crop insurance for veterans, beginning farmers, and fruit and vegetable growers.
HOUSE BILL: Picks winners and losers based on certain regions and crops, prioritizes large farms over small ones that need relief, and makes it harder for new farmers and veterans to pursue a career in farming
· While certain Ohio producers could receive safety-net payments each year, others could face uncertainty or be left out in the cold, even in bad years. This would pit farmers against each other and pick winners and losers in the system, rather than supporting those who need relief most.
· Additionally, there are no new investments for expanding the next generation of farmers. Instead, the bill prioritizes increasing subsidizes for large, existing farmers, while doing little to ensure veterans, minority farmers, and beginning producers have access to the resources they need to make farming a full time career.
Spurring Rural Economic Development by Supporting Local Food Systems
SENATE BILL: Provides permanent funding to help farmers sell their products directly to consumers, create rural jobs, and invest in local and regional food economies
· Senator Brown has long pushed for the types of programs that help local and smaller farmers. Last year, he introduced the bipartisan Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (S.1947) with Senator Susan Collins, which would do exactly that. This bill has been included in the bipartisan bill that the Senate Agriculture Committee recently passed.
HOUSE BILL: Significantly reduces support for local food economies
· Under the House Republican Farm Bill, local food systems would face uncertainty. The House would eliminate programs that promote Ohio grown and raised foods, farmers markets, local food programs, and assistance for smaller farmers who are looking to expand and grow their businesses.
Feeding Hungry Ohio Families
SENATE BILL: Strengthens SNAP program and protects families in need by helping avoid harmful eligibility changes that would force working families and veterans to jump through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops
· Hungry Ohioans rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to feed their families when times are tough. Nearly 70 percent of those receiving SNAP are families with children, while close to one-third are households with seniors or those with disabilities.
HOUSE BILL: Seeks to make changes to SNAP eligibility and cut $20 billion in benefits from families, making it harder for thousands of Ohioans to make ends meet
· The House’s massive eligibility changes to the nutrition safety net would take away or reduce SNAP benefits for 2 million people and subject millions more working families to unnecessary burdens. Over $20 billion worth of food benefits would be taken away from families to create bureaucratic obstacles that will do little to help Americans find work and feed their families.
Prioritizing Rural Investments to Better Help Farmers
SENATE BILL: Would prioritize hardworking farmers by investing in the kinds of programs that would assist them in their business
· The Senate Farm Bill includes a myriad of programs that would help hardworking farmers through rural investments. The bill contains funding and support for programs that would expand rural broadband in communities by providing new grants to connect communities with modern internet access; help fight the opioid crisis through expanded telemedicine and community facility investments to provide critical treatment options for those who suffer from opioid addiction; and improve rural drinking water by targeting infrastructure investments to ensure small town water systems are providing clean and reliable tap water.
HOUSE BILL: Makes no rural investments in programs that would help farmers and rural communities, like expanding high-speed internet, helping fight the opioid crisis, reducing their utility bills, and investing in drinking water sources
· While the Senate Farm Bill makes investments in the future of small towns and rural communities, the House bill focuses on special interests rather than providing farmers and their communities with the meaningful resources they need to grow and thrive in the 21st century economy. Instead, the House Farm Bill makes cuts to many of these critical programs.
Making Responsible Changes for Middle-Class Taxpayers
SENATE BILL: Strengthens oversight of taxpayer dollars
· The Senate bill makes responsible changes that put middle-class taxpayers and small farmers over special interests. The bill ensures people making over $700,000 do not qualify for farm payments, and institutes a new data mining effort to root-out waste, fraud and abuse.
HOUSE BILL: Abuses taxpayer dollars
· The House Farm Bill would create new, broad loopholes that would make it easy for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations to game the system and receive farm subsidies by evading payment limits and income limits. After the Republican tax bill already gave massive windfalls to the top 1 percent, Brown said such a move would be a slap in the face to hardworking, middle-class Ohioans who work hard every day on their farms.
New Technology Continues to Distract Drivers, Despite Improvements
AAA recommends industry collaboration to lower demand levels on drivers
COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 27, 2018) – New AAA Foundation research shows Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are less distracting than automakers’ infotainment systems, but still take drivers’ eyes off the road and mind off the task of driving for extended periods of time.
With distracted driving responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths each year*, AAA is encouraged by the findings, as they indicate vehicle infotainment systems can be designed in a way that helps reduce driver distractions. However, motorists should be aware that none of the current systems tested are safe to use while driving.
“Google and Apple are proving that it is possible to reduce the level of demand in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “While improvements are necessary before any of the systems can be considered safe to use while driving, this research shows that smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding.”
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety teamed with researchers from the University of Utah to evaluate the visual and mental demands Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and vehicle infotainment systems placed on drivers in five 2017 and 2018 model vehicles.
Researchers used a rating scale to measure demands of each system and the time it took drivers to complete a task using the system. The scale ranged from low to very high levels of demand, with low equivalent to listening to the radio or an audiobook and very high equivalent to balancing a checkbook while driving.
Both CarPlay and Android Auto generated an overall moderate level of demand
The native vehicle systems created very high levels of demand.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto’s software use cloud-based voice technology, like Siri and Google Assistant, which adapt to a user’s voice over time – resulting in faster response times. Despite this, AAA cautions all systems are still dangerous to use when driving, and recommends industry design systems that do not exceed a low level of demand.
Programming navigation remains the most distracting of all tasks tested. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, drivers still took up to 33 seconds to complete a navigation task, compared to 48 seconds for native systems. At 25 mph, drivers can travel the length of three football fields in this time.
It’s also important for consumers to note that CarPlay and Android Auto performed differently in different vehicles, creating varying levels of demand.
“Drivers must use common sense when it comes to technology inside the vehicle. Just because it is available, doesn’t make it safe to use,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety and advocacy. “Smartphone companies and automakers must collaborate to reduce the potential for distraction that technology places on drivers. The airline industry doesn’t compete on safety, and neither should automakers – as motorists we deserve better.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends locking out high-demand functions, such as programing navigation and text messaging while the vehicle is in motion. This can significantly reduce the level of demand in-vehicle infotainment systems create.
“AAA is sharing this new research with automakers and system designers to help advance the dialogue about ways to improve the functionality and design of new infotainment systems and the demand they place on drivers,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s president and CEO.
This study marks the sixth phase of distraction research from AAA’s Center for Driving Safety and Technology, which launched in 2013 to study the safety implications of driver interactions with new vehicle technologies. More about this ongoing effort at AAA.com/Distraction.
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit AAAFoundation.org.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.
*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration