24 May 2018   Leave a comment

The planned summit in Singapore between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim has been called off by the North Koreans.  The move is not at all surprising, given the wide divide between the two parties on the meaning and pace of “denuclearization”.  However, Mr. Trump’s letter to Mr. Kim was astonishing.  At the end of the first paragraph, Mr Trump says: “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”  The implicit threat of nuclear war in a message that purportedly holds out the hope that “Some day I look forward to meeting you” is preposterous.  The offensiveness of the letter is secondary to its complete incoherence.  The South Koreans were completely caught off guard by the Trump announcement.  South Korea presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said “We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means.”  The cancellation of the summit follows an increasingly hostile exchange of rhetoric between US Vice-President Pence and North Korea.  According to CNBC:

“The latest escalation between Washington and Pyongyang came this week, when Vice President Mike Pence warned that the North Korean regime may end up like former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. His government was toppled years after he agreed to give up his budding nuclear weapons program.

“Choe Son Hui, a North Korean official, responded by calling Pence’s remarks ‘ignorant and stupid.'”

There will likely be a big rush to obtain the “Challenge Coins” minted by the White House commemorating the historic summit meeting.  They will serve as useful reminders of misguided diplomacy.  It is absurd that so many people took this initiative seriously:  there was no attempt to make any of the necessary preparations for such a difficult negotiations.  And the history of similar discussions in the past clearly indicates that the US and North Korea have deep misunderstandings of each other’s intentions.  We have taken this class before.  In fact, we’ve already graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the School of Dissembling Diplomacy.

President Trump’s Letter to Leader Kim

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Challenge Coin for the Scheduled, and now Cancelled, Summit

Former Trump aide mocks 'idiot' who ordered commemorative coins for Kim summit


The negotiations between the US, Canada, and Mexico on the revision of the North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA) are seriously bogged down.  In an attempt to force concessions from Canada and Mexico, US President Trump has threatened to raise automobile tariffs on imported cars by 25%.  If those tariffs were to be implemented, the effects on both countries would be quite serious.  But the tariffs would also affect other countries adversely, most of which are some of the US’s most important allies.  The tariffs would also raise car prices for American consumers quite significantly–a fact that suggests that Mr. Trump’s threat is meaningless as such an increase would have profoundly negative effects on Republican chances in the November elections.

Infographic: Who Would Be Hit Hardest by a U.S. Tariff on Cars? | Statista


New research suggests that the nutritional value of rice–the main staple of 2 billion people on the planet–may decline due to global warming.  Researchers in Japan and China have grown rice in atmospheres containing carbon dioxide concentrations of 568 to 590 parts per million (current concentrations are around 410 parts per million).  They found that

“….at the high concentrations, the crop’s content of the vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B9 all declined, including by as much as 30 per cent for B9 (folate). The research also confirmed previously discovered declines in protein, iron and zinc.”

The research should be viewed along with other studies that suggest that wheat production could decline significantly in higher concentrations of CO2 as well.  Many believe that more CO2 would increase crop yields because plants absorb it to grow.  But plant metabolism may not be able to process the higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that maintain current nutritional levels.


Posted May 24, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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