Korean summit collapses

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President Donald Trump speaks as Sec of State Mike Pompeo looks on during a news conference after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks as Sec of State Mike Pompeo looks on during a news conference after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

No deal: Trump, Kim summit collapses over sanctions impasse


Associated Press

Thursday, February 28

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Talks between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un collapsed Thursday after the two sides failed to bridge a standoff over U.S. sanctions, a dispiriting end to high-stakes meetings meant to disarm a global nuclear threat.

Trump blamed the breakdown on North Korea’s insistence that all the punishing sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Pyongyang be lifted without the North committing to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.

“Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump explained at a closing news conference after the summit was abruptly cut short. He said there had been a proposed agreement that was “ready to be signed.”

“I’d much rather do it right than do it fast,” Trump said. “We’re in position to do something very special.”

Mere hours after both nations had seemed hopeful of a deal, the two leaders’ motorcades roared away from the downtown Hanoi summit site within minutes of each other, their lunch canceled and a signing ceremony scuttled. The president’s closing news conference was hurriedly moved up, and he departed for Washington more than two hours ahead of schedule.

The disintegration of talks came after Trump and Kim had appeared to be ready to inch toward normalizing relations between their still technically warring nations and as the American leader dampened expectations that their negotiations would yield an agreement by North Korea to take concrete steps toward ending a nuclear program that Pyongyang likely sees as its strongest security guarantee.

In something of a role reversal, Trump had deliberately ratcheted down some of the pressure on North Korea, abandoning his fiery rhetoric and declaring that he wanted the “right deal” over a rushed agreement. For his part, Kim, when asked whether he was ready to denuclearize, had said, “If I’m not willing to do that I won’t be here right now.”

The breakdown denied Trump a much-needed triumph amid growing domestic turmoil back home, including congressional testimony this week by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who called Trump a “racist” and “con man” and claimed prior knowledge that WikiLeaks would release emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

North Korea’s state media made no immediate comment on the diplomatic impasse, and Kim remained in his locked-down hotel after leaving the summit venue. The North Korean leader was scheduled to meet with top Vietnamese leaders on Friday and leave Saturday on his armored train for the long return trip, through China, to North Korea.

Trump insisted his relations with Kim remained warm, but he did not commit to having a third summit with the North Korean leader, saying a possible next meeting “may not be for a long time.” Though both he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said significant progress had been made in Hanoi, the two sides appeared to be galaxies apart on an agreement that would live up to U.S. stated goals.

“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” Trump told reporters.

Kim, he explained, appeared willing to close his country’s main nuclear facility, the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, if the sanctions were lifted. But that would leave him with missiles, warheads and weapon systems, Pompeo said. There are also suspected hidden nuclear fuel production sites around the country.

“We couldn’t quite get there today,” Pompeo said, minimizing what seemed to be a chasm between the two sides.

Longstanding U.S. policy has insisted that U.S. sanctions on North Korea would not be lifted until that country committed to, if not concluded, complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. Trump declined to restate that goal Thursday, insisting he wanted flexibility in talks with Kim.

“I don’t want to put myself in that position from the standpoint of negotiation,” he said.

White House aides stressed that Trump stood strong, and some observers evoked the 1987 Reykjavík summit between Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev, a meeting over nuclear weapons that ended without a deal but laid the groundwork for a future agreement.

The failure in Hanoi laid bare a risk in Trump’s unpredictable negotiating style: Preferring one-on-one meetings with his foreign counterparts, his administration often eschews the staff-level work done in advance to assure a deal and envisions summits more as messaging opportunities than venues for hardline negotiation.

There was disappointment and alarm in South Korea, whose liberal leader has been a leading orchestrator of the nuclear diplomacy and who needs a breakthrough to restart lucrative engagement projects with the impoverished North. Yonhap news agency said that the clock on the Korean Peninsula’s security situation has “turned back to zero” and diplomacy is now “at a crossroads.”

The collapse was a dramatic turnaround from the optimism that surrounded the talks after the leaders’ dinner Wednesday and that had prompted the White House to list a signing ceremony on Trump’s official schedule for Thursday.

The two leaders had seemed to find a point of agreement when Kim, who fielded questions from American journalists for the first time, was asked if the U.S. may open a liaison office in North Korea. Trump declared it “not a bad idea,” and Kim called it “welcomable.” Such an office would mark the first U.S. presence in North Korea and a significant grant to a country that has long been deliberately starved of international recognition.

But questions persisted throughout the summit, including whether Kim was willing to make valuable concessions, what Trump would demand in the face of rising domestic turmoil and whether the meeting could yield far more concrete results than the leaders’ first summit, a meeting in Singapore less than a year ago that was long on dramatic imagery but short on tangible results.

There had long been skepticism that Kim would be willing to give away the weapons his nation had spent decades developing and Pyongyang felt ensured its survival. But even after the summit ended, Trump praised Kim’s commitment to continue a moratorium on missile testing.

Trump also said he believed the autocrat’s claim that he had nothing to do with the 2017 death of Otto Warmbier, a American college student who died after being held in a North Korean prison.

“I don’t believe that he would have allowed that to happen,” Trump said. “He felt badly about it.”

The declaration immediately called to mind other moments when Trump chose to believe autocrats over his own intelligence agencies, including siding with the Saudi royal family regarding the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and supporting Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s denials that he interfered with the 2016 election.

If the first Trump-Kim summit gave the reclusive nation’s leader entree onto the international stage, the second appeared to grant him the legitimacy his family has long desired.

Kim, for the first time, affably parried with the international press without having to account for his government’s long history of oppression. He secured Trump’s support for the opening of a liaison office in Pyongyang, without offering any concessions of his own. Even without an agreement, Trump’s backing for the step toward normalization provided the sort of recognition the international community has long denied Kim’s government.

Experts worried that the darker side of Kim’s leadership was being brushed aside in the rush to address the North’s nuclear weapons program: the charges of massive human rights abuses; the prison camps filled with dissidents; a near complete absence of media, religious and speech freedoms; the famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands; and the executions of a slew of government and military officials, including his uncle and the alleged assassination order of his half-brother in a Malaysian airport.

Trump also has a history of cutting short foreign trips and walking out of meetings when he feels no progress is being made. That includes a notable episode this year when he walked out of a White House meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer over a government shutdown, calling the negotiation “a total waste of time.”

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JonLemire , Riechmann at http://twitter.com/debriechmann and Klug at http://twitter.com/APklug

Follow all of AP’s summit coverage: https://apnews.com/Trump-KimSummit

Opinion: North Korea is Far From Being Another Vietnam

By Donald Kirk


HANOI — The slogan “Hanoi, City for Peace” would have seemed unimaginable when I was a correspondent in Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War nearly half a century ago.

This capital of what we then called “North” Vietnam was the heart of a desperate surge southward that is still not entirely understood. The face of the drive was communist but the motivating force was a historic nationalist desire to reunify a nation that had inexorably expanded southward centuries before.

So doing, the Vietnamese had resisted Chinese control, had overrun the Cambodian or Khmer kingdom in the Mekong River delta, and then all but destroyed the Cham civilization that had also once flourished in the south. The fierce instinct for unity fed the war against the French colonialists that culminated in their defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the artificial division of Vietnam between two Vietnams in 1954 and unremitting warfare against U.S. forces and the Saigon regime that finally collapsed nearly half a century ago.

Against this background, it is almost unreal to be visiting here in an atmosphere not only of peace but of U.S.-Vietnamese friendship that had once seemed totally impossible. The atmosphere is made all the more incredible by the sight of the flags of Vietnam, the United States and North Korea testifying to Vietnam’s emergence as a strong and prosperous country eager for friendship on all sides.

It would be a mistake, however, to compare the experiences of Vietnam and North Korea. Yes, they are both communist countries, dominated by powerful central party rule, but Vietnam has long since gone capitalist with private enterprise flourishing on innumerable levels. The GDP of Vietnam increased by an amazing 7 percent last year even as the government expanded relations with the United States, seen as a foil against Chinese domination.

North Korea, in stark contrast, remains so tightly controlled that private markets have to flourish illegally or semi-legally for the sake of survival while legitimate large-scale private enterprise is largely unknown. Kim Jong Un’s switch to emphasis on economic development is more talk than substance even if he’s not ordering nuclear tests.

The contrast is even more striking when one considers the differences between latter-day South Korea and the entity we knew as “South Vietnam” during the Vietnam War.

South Korea’s economy is now the 12th-biggest in the world, defended by a military establishment that’s capable of withstanding attack from the North. South Vietnam was never more than an economic dependency of the United States even if the Vietnamese entrepreneurial spirit was evident then, as now, in the South as well as the North.

South Korea today is so strong economically that for sure North Korea is going to need lots of aid and investment beginning with construction of roads and railroads. All the while Kim Jong Un holds a club over the South in the form of a nuclear and missile program that threatens the region.

Which leads to the overwhelming difference between North Korea and Vietnam today. North Korea’s nuclear program makes it a rogue nation, breathing defiance for no reason other than to bolster the ego of a despotic dynastic ruler. Unlike North Korea, Vietnam has never wasted its resources on nukes and missiles or left its people to go hungry while sending tens of thousands into prison camps and kidnapping hapless victims from South Korea and Japan.

In theory, North Korea might share Vietnam’s suspicions, sometimes hostility, toward the overweening power of China. While Vietnam stood up against the Chinese in a border war 40 years ago, however, Kim has prostrated himself before China’s President Xi Jinping in visits to Beijing with his wife, sister, aides and advisers, looking for Chinese assurances and support.

Besides defying China decades ago, Vietnam has sought to counter China’s claims over the South China Sea. That’s a bold, risky policy in which Vietnam is ill-equipped to compel the Chinese not to exploit resources of oil and gas within its territorial waters. For that reason alone, Vietnam needs military ties with the United States that would have seemed the stuff of fantasy when I was writing about the war from Saigon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Yes, Saigon is now “Ho Chi Minh City,” named for the founder of modern Vietnam, but it’s a commentary on life in Vietnam these days that a younger generation that never knew the war still tends to call it Saigon. Vietnam may not be a “free country” politically, but the Vietnamese enjoy a degree of real freedom that North Koreans can only fantasize.


Donald Kirk has been a columnist for Korea Times, South China Morning Post many other newspapers and magazines. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

The Conversation

3 reasons why people fall for politicians’ lies about statistics

February 28, 2019

They said it, but is it true?

Author: Mack Clayton Shelley, II; University Professor of Political Science, Statistics, and School of Education, and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Iowa State University

Disclosure statement: Mack Clayton Shelley, II does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: Iowa State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

Why do people make such poor decisions about politics? Why are they so often distracted by lies, irrelevant alternatives and specious arguments?

Politicians use and abuse statistics and fabricate when it suits their purposes. Contemporary examples of either deliberate or inadvertent misuse of data are easy to find on all sides of the political divide, from the Trump administration’s claim that U.S. border officials detained “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists” last year at the Mexican border to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s December tweet asserting that “66 percent of Medicare for All could have been funded already” with the money spent on the Pentagon’s accounting errors.

The notion of politically related lying with numbers has been around a long time, back at least to Mark Twain in a 1906 book in which he attributed the phrase “lies, damn lies and statistics” to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Lots of others claim parentage of the phrase or are given credit for coining it.

I have spent 40 years teaching and publishing in political science and statistics, focused on helping students become critical thinkers. I believe that politicians can get away with lies so easily because the public is not trained to critically consume statistical information or to defend against other (dis)information that is deliberately designed to mislead.

1. Lack of statistical skills

It’s difficult to be a critical consumer of statistical information, because that requires the ability to process numeric data in context.

Many Americans do not do well with processing information about numbers and consequently may make poor decisions. People who are more numerate are less susceptible to being led to a false conclusion, are less affected by their mood, and are more aware of the levels of risk associated with actions and decisions.

For example, if you flip four coins in a row, what’s the probability of getting two heads? Most people guess 50 percent. Figuring out that the answer is actually 37.5 percent takes some work and is not intuitive. So is understanding that a run of nine consecutive tails does not mean that the tenth coin flip is likely to be a head.

In the same way, it’s easy for people to believe the tweet from President Donald Trump, based on outdated information from the Texas secretary of state that “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country, especially in California, voter fraud is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID! @foxandfriends.”

In reality, proven cases of voter fraud are rare and voter lists often are inaccurate about current citizenship status. A scary-sounding statement that “58,000 non-citizens voted” should trigger immediate head-scratching and fact-checking; as it has turned out, most of the alleged illegal votes were cast by people who subsequently had become citizens and eligible to vote.

2. Letting emotions get the better of you

It’s easy for politicians to take advantage of what Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon calls “bounded rationality.” “Bounded rationality” is about being influenced by emotions, preconceived notions and things I may think I know but really don’t.

What’s more, political figures can get away with saying things that don’t square with the facts, because it would take too much effort for the average person to fact-check everything for accuracy.

Coupled with this is the psychological process of “confirmation bias.” If you hear or read or someone tells you something that sounds wrong to you, you tend to block out ideas, facts or data that don’t jibe with your current beliefs.

Confirmation bias can apply to a wide array of issues, including gun control, sexual double standards and more. Emotions can sway people to believe untrue statements.

3. Overestimating your own knowledge

This brings us to the Dunning–Kruger effect.

People with lesser abilities tend to overstate their level of knowledge and understanding. If I see a bad call by a football referee, my first reaction might be to say that I could have gotten that call right, but I’m totally not trained as a referee and wouldn’t have a clue about what call to make on most plays.

This perception of illusory superiority comes from people not being equipped to realize that they don’t know what they don’t know. That in turn makes it all the more difficult to separate out “fake news” from reality. In a 2017 study, researchers Chris Vargo at the University of Colorado and Lei Guo and Michelle Amazeen at Boston University showed that false reports are instrumental in setting the news agenda for partisan media, despite fact-checkers’ efforts. Other research shows that most Americans who see fake news believe it.

Combined with a general lack of knowledge about political processes, these mental processes make it tough for anyone to understand the facts about major issues. Elected public officials are hired by the electorate precisely because they are good at saying things you like to hear. They are rewarded for what they say – rather than for doing the right thing.


Eric Blair, logged in via Google: 95.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Andrew Taylor: Socrates: truth doesn’t change no matter how Sophist-icated the argument.

Hypatia: folks can keep true facts right here in my library, and when they do, they can compare the facts to other facts, instead of pray to a vengeful skyfairy for a guess.

Confucius: doing administration that helps everyone without personal benefits, actually gives personal benefits to this moral administrator. Good work is a reward in itself.

Avicenna: if it works every time, even when we don’t pray to god, that means it works. If we pray and it doesn’t work, then it still doesn’t work.

John Locke: Freedom is actually free, you literally don’t have to pay for it with money for the landlord or priest. You just have to make good agreements.

Hannah Arendt: “Good agreements necessarily include everybody, even including people who weren’t at the negotiating table, ”. W.E.B. DuBois and Ho Chi Minh second her on that.

Kahneman and Dunning got mentioned here already

Then comes Robert Sapolsky and the Whitehall Study: no matter how much health-goodness practiced by the lowly-status’d, their health suffers very badly just from the fact of the low-status. High-status folks only recognize/enjoy their high status in the actual presence of suffering by the low status’d. Using the technique of belief-promo is the best way to get those below to suffer in a way that those above can actually see-&-enjoy it.

And now, Carlo Cipolla’s theories of stupidity – from WP: “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity explores the controversial subject of stupidity. Stupid people are seen as a group, more powerful by far than major organizations such as the Mafia and the industrial complex, which without regulations, leaders or manifesto nonetheless manages to operate to great effect and with incredible coordination. [Trump voters – right?]

These are Cipolla’s five fundamental laws of stupidity:

Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation. 2. The probability that a certain person will be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person. 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses. [Don Jr, right?] 4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake. [Manafort and Cohen, right?] 5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

It sure looks like the best pathway out of stupidity is to walk away from faith, because faith itself is stupid. Look at all of the religious Trump voters who wanted him to give them their religious SCOTUS and look the other way at his personal behavior.

How to fix this? American schools and universities are in an appalling state, literally rotted to the core by boards made up of rich donors, rich because of inheritance or bullying in business. These dumb-donor boards are narcissistically enabled by an administrative class that has never heard the name “Confucius” and has literally no idea of mandarinistic honor. These stupidities have led to an American intelligentsia that is so literally dumb that we have seen America invaded not physically by a military, but invaded mentally by pranking nihilists like Murdoch and Putin.

Time for donors to be removed from decision making in America. Clement Attlee: “Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.”

Then, this tax money should be presided-over by the public. Two things are necessary.

Boards – 80% Sortition from local community picked annually, 20% teachers of children in local schools who have life-terms as long as they keep teaching children in classrooms full-time. University Boards must be formed from the court-jury system, randomly selected from the general population that surrounds the university. (Imagine what Johns Hopkins would look like if they had this? They started in an empty paddock in 1876 and have now spent a century-&-a-half growing a filthy slum around every side of their property. “… universities are a special kind of “anchor tenant” for their regions” what a joke JHU has made of that concept). 80% of a university’s board must be local Sortition. The remaining 20% must be formed from elementary and middle school teachers from the surrounding schools. These teachers’ students will be going to that university in 4-10 years and they have the most information about future student needs, and also these teachers-of-children have the most information about what the university needs to provide to its surrounding community.

Interdepartmental academic reviews. The law students should be giving regular conferences to the education students about how to protect themselves from exploitation by donor-boards in schools. The education students should be giving the law students regular conferences about constructivist education theory and how law lecture curriculum is jaded prescriptions from the 1970’s. The psychology students should give the law students systematic reviews of the “Socratic Method”’s researched failures. The history students should have a permanent bench at every board meeting to take the minutes and then publish them in historical context every month. History students’ analyses of their own universities’ development over time should be the history professors’ career work. Medicine students should be getting lessons from accounting students regarding Pollyanna effects on prescribing for ear infections (look it up, it’s crazy-bad medicine). Accounting students should be primarily responsible for preparing the accounting statements for the board meetings, and their work doing this will reveal the effectiveness of the accounting professors to the board, and yield great cost-savings to universities that no longer need huge accounts depts in head office

President Donald Trump speaks as Sec of State Mike Pompeo looks on during a news conference after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122411463-1d52b2c3642846a48eedcb580a0f4271.jpgPresident Donald Trump speaks as Sec of State Mike Pompeo looks on during a news conference after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122411463-27f2a3398e63427684d679a267c029f0.jpgPresident Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122411463-66ebdf5526b043e89faacb7235eb38bc.jpgPresident Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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