Concerning N. Korea: Are S. Korean People As Clueless As The Trump Administration?

Concerning N. Korea: Are S. Korean People As Clueless As The Trump Administration?

 

President Trump always try’s to play himself off as a macho man when it comes to talking about war issues even though he hid behind his daddy skirts 6 or 7 times in being a coward to stay out of Vietnam. It is no secret that Mr Trump adores ‘strong men’ like Mr Putin, Xi Jinping and Duarte and that he wishes that the U.S. Constitution didn’t exist and that we here in the U.S. should adopt a policy like China has where Xi Jinping is now ‘President For Life.’ You very well know that if Hillary was the President he would not be in favor of such a policy. The issue, just like every thing else in this world (in his eyes) is all about him. What he has proven himself to be over and over again is an habitual liar, ignorant of all reality, a total egomaniac, and a complete fool. I also believe that once the midterm election is over and the Democrats demolish the Republicans in the Congress and the Democrats retake the Senate, probable 51-49 or maybe 52-48, the Republicans will turn on Mr. Trump and he will be impeached. It is not like the Republican establishment likes this crooked fool, but he is the only horse they have in the race so they have chosen to forfeit all semblance of integrity and to stay with him, until after November.

 

 

North Korea’s Vice Minister of the Foreign Ministry, Ms. Cloe who specializes in North Korea-American relations said the following about Vice President Pence’s ‘Libya’ comments. She said “Mr. Pence is a ‘Political Dummy’ for comparing Libya to North Korea. As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out of the mouth of the U.S. Vice President.” Mr. Adam Mount, the Director of the ‘Defense Posture Project’ at the Federation of American Scientist said he believes that the comments made by Mr. Pence and Mr. Bolton were the “most explicit regime change threat yet” from the Trump Administration.

 

Why I asked the question in the title about if the people of South Korea are as clueless as people like Mr. Trump are is because of the following pieces of reality I would like to share with you now. First, I would like t compare the situation on the Korean Peninsula with the situation in Israel/Gaza/West Bank. The majority of the people of Israel know very well if there was no secured border with the Palestinians this latest “March of Return” that Hamas has instituted would have wiped out all the Jewish people and there would no longer be a Nation of Israel. Reality is that most of Israels neighbors, PA, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, they do not want peace with Israel, they want there to be no such thing as a Nation of Israel. Now, if there is indeed to be only one Korea, that Korea will be under the direct control of Kim Jong Un, the man will accept nothing less as this is his ultimate goal in life. Now concerning the Nuclear Site that North Korea supposedly blew up yesterday. The CIA as well as some of China’s news outlets said over a month ago that this site, the interior of this mountain had caved in, so they had no ‘active’ nuclear site. The only way they could have rebuilt this site with all of the sanctions going on was if China financed them and helped to physically rebuild it, reality is that Xi Jinping told Kim Jong Un no when Kim visited China last month. This event played well into China’s wishes. No nukes on their door step, blow up the nonexistent Nuke site, play nice with South Korea and the U.S. and see what kind of concessions can be obtained from the U.S. and their allies. Trump has spoken lately of removing the 45,000 Marines that we have stationed at the border between the two Korea’s and this past week he also called off some of the military exercise events we have each with the South Korean military in an attempt to please Mr. Kim. If Mr. Kim cannot simply march his army into South Korea at this time he is trying to get a lot of loans or credit so that he can get the South Korean government to open trade with the South. This in a sense is like the China model of keep the government in place but get revenues and technologies from the West to make your Communist government stronger with the influx of revenues. China is and has been using this model to take over all of Asia as they do ‘play the long game.’

 

I’ll make this last paragraph about the ‘Libya stupidity’. Here are the reasons why the tragedy that is Libya of today will not ever happen in North Korea. 1) There is no Islamic insurgency of any kind in North Korea. Libya is and was inundated with believers of Islam, unless a strong Dictator can come into this country and wipe out all of these fundamentalist of Islam, Libya is going to stay a cesspool for many decades to come. 2) The people, the citizens of Libya had/has no strong Super Power backing them on one of their borders like North Korea does with China. President Xi Jinping of China has made it perfectly clear that China will not tolerate a Regime Change in North Korea. He has made it plain that they will not allow a democracy or a ‘friend’ of the United States to occupy the space that is the North Korea of today. Trump has at times made comments about maybe doing a first strike against North Korea to get rid of all of their nukes. These comments were made despite the comments of Xi Jinping that if North Korea is attacked first, China will join in that war to support North Korea, thus creating a nuclear war, world war 3 with China and probably with Russia joining in with their ally, China. China will not tolerate a ‘Libya situation’ on their border so only people who are ignorant of these realities  or someone who is simply a stupid fool (Bolton, Pence, Trump) would make such “ignorant and stupid remarks.” The American people must face up to the fact that all of the rest of the world already knows, we have a Lunatic sitting in Our Oval Office!

Trump And Pence Both Lying About School Safety Budget

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

 1:22
Fact Checker | Has the administration obtained $2 billion for ‘school safety’?

President Trump and Vice President Pence have been touting their commitment to school safety, but the numbers don’t add up. 

“Thanks to the president’s leadership, we’re already providing nearly $2 billion more in help to local governments to ensure security at our schools and the safety of our students. It represents the single largest investment in school safety in American history.”
— Vice President Pence, in remarks in Indianapolis, May 18, 2018

“I recently signed legislation that includes more than $2 billion to improve school safety, including the funding for training, and metal detectors, and security and mental health.”
— President Trump, in remarks to the National Rifle Association, Dallas, Texas, May 4

We first spotted Vice President Pence’s claim of “nearly $2 billion” in funding for school safety but then realized that President Trump had offered a more grandiose statement of “more than $2 billion” during his speech to the NRA.

With yet another deadly school shooting, this time in Santa Fe, Tex., it seems appropriate to figure whether these numbers are real. Pence touted it as the “single largest investment to school safety in American history” and attributed it “to the president’s leadership.”

The Facts

The funding is contained in the omnibus spending package signed into law in March — a bill that the president said he was “unhappy” with. He threatened a veto and then signed it anyway, but promised he would “never sign another bill like this again.”

The vice president’s office directed us to the White House Office and Management and Budget for a detailed explanation of “nearly $2 billion” in funding. An OMB senior adviser provided a list of programs that added up to $1.7 billion, which means that according to the White House’s own accounting the president was exaggerating when he said “more than $2 billion.”

But upon inspection, the vice president is exaggerating too. The biggest part of the figure — $1.1 billion — is for a school grants program that is only tenuously connected to school safety.

The program, Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE), is a block grant, also known as Title IV-A, signed into law by President Barack Obama, with an authorized level of $1.6 billion a year. At least 20 percent of the funds are supposed to be used for “safe and healthy students,” which ranges from school-based mental health programs and suicide prevention to better health and safety practices in athletic programs.

This is what is supposed to represent “school safety” and “security at schools.” At best the administration could claim $220 million of the $1.1 billion appropriation for school security, but frankly that’s a stretch.

Under the law, the grants are also supposed to be used for “well-rounded educational opportunities” — such as bolstering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education — and “effective use of technology” in increasing academic achievement. No more than 15 percent of the money can be spent on buying “technology infrastructure.”

Indeed, language in the House Appropriations Committee report and the omnibus explanatory statement published in the Congressional Record shows that Congress expected that much of this money would be spent on STEM education, especially computer science training for “underrepresented students such as minorities, girls, and youth from families living at or below the poverty line.”

That doesn’t sound like school security at all.

The OMB official defended attributing all the money to school security because the Education Department estimates “a significant majority of the districts will receive under $30,000, meaning they will have no restrictions on how they can allocate funds.” He added: “The program was designed to be very flexible with the intention of meeting local needs. Since we do not know if districts intend to seek waivers, we have stated that ‘up to $1.1 billion is available for school safety needs.’”

Kirsten Stewart, director of public policy at advocacy group Futures without Violence, a member of the Title IV-A Coalition, says other estimates indicate a “a good percentage” of school districts will exceed the $30,000 threshold, requiring guidelines to be followed. She said it is not clear how the money has been spent in the past because schools are only due to receive 2017 funding by September. The money in the $1.1 billion appropriation will not reach schools until September 2019.

There’s another fishy aspect to Pence and Trump bragging about the SSAE grants. The Trump administration has repeatedly insisted the program should be eliminated, even just weeks before the passage of the omnibus legislation in its 2019 budget proposal. In 2018, SSAE received funding of almost $400 million, but Trump proposed to zero it out, arguing “it duplicates activities that may be supported by other Federal programs as well as state, local, and private funding.”

Congress simply ignored the administration’s objections and even boosted the annual funding by $700 million.

A tip-off that the administration was not happy about this development is that in its official Statement of Administration Policy on the omnibus bill, issued March 22, the OMB made no mention of the SSAE grants when it applauded money in the bill to improve school safety. Instead, it mentioned the inclusion of the STOP School Violence Act, which earned a $75 million appropriation in 2019, and a few other programs in the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Justice.

(The $75 million for the STOP School Violence Act came from funds already appropriated for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, a program developed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, that the Trump administration also sought to end funding for in 2019.)

Note that Pence claimed the funding was “thanks to the president’s leadership.” That’s akin to a student on a group project in high school who repeatedly badmouths the group’s agenda, even to the point of refusing to do any work — and then tries to claim credit after the project earned kudos from the teacher.

The other items on the OMB list are a grab-bag of items totaling about $500 million, such as $71 million for Project AWARE, to increase awareness of mental health issues among youth, $94 million for peer-to-peer mentoring of at-risk youths and $24 million to prevent gang violence.

There’s also $90 million for “school safety national activities,” but that’s mostly aimed at training teachers on how to improve student behavior. That’s also higher than the administration requested; for 2019, the administration wants to cut the funding to $42 million and turn the focus on the opioid crisis.

We would argue that some of these programs have little to do with school security, especially in the context of school shootings. But in any case, even under the most generous accounting, it doesn’t come close to $2 billion.

The OMB did not respond to repeated questions about how it determined this was the largest investment in school safety in U.S. history. Given how the other numbers were fudged, this is also rather dubious.

The Pinocchio Test

On either side of $2 billion, Pence and Trump have been rather misleading with the funding for school security in the omnibus bill. More than 60 percent of the money comes from a pot that is mostly devoted to a well-rounded education or technology, not school safety — and it’s an Obama-era program the administration wanted to zero out. The administration’s spin earns Four Pinocchios.

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Mike Pence
Vice President
“Thanks to the president’s leadership, we’re already providing nearly $2 billion more in help to local governments to ensure security at our schools and the safety of our students. It represents the single largest investment in school safety in American history.”
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Donald Trump
President
“I recently signed legislation that includes more than $2 billion to improve school safety, including the funding for training, and metal detectors, and security and mental health.”
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Mike Pence Just Gave The Criminal: Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio A Boost In Arizona

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Mike Pence just gave Joe Arpaio a boost in Arizona — and it could lead to disaster for Senate Republicans

Washington (CNN)On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence was in Tempe, Arizona, to headline an event for the pro-Trump outside group America First Policies. (That group has its own problems.) In his speech, Pence singled out former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for praise.

“A great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law,” Pence said. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I’m honored to have you here.”
There are a few things wrong with that statement by Pence.
First, the idea that Arpaio is a “tireless champion … (of) the rule of law” is provably false.
In 2011, a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop stopping anyone who was not directly suspected of having committed a state or federal crime. (The lawsuit came as the result of the 2007 detention of a Mexican man who had a tourist visa.) Arpaio never acknowledged that order and continued on enforcing his own brand of immigration policy. He was found guilty of criminal contempt and was scheduled to be sentenced last fall — just as President Donald Trump stepped in and pardoned the controversial sheriff.
So, no, he is not a champion for the rule of law. He is a champion for the law as he decides it to be. Which is not the same thing.
Then there is the political dumbness of Pence’s praise of Arpaio.
At the moment, Arpaio is one of three major candidates running for the Republican Senate nomination on August 28. (The seat is open due to GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s retirement.) Arpaio is widely regarded as the weakest of the three candidates — and someone who would begin well behind likely Democratic nominee Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.
The limited polling in the Republican primary shows Rep. Martha McSally with a clear edge but former state legislator Kelli Ward and Arpaio are still very much in contention.
An endorsement like the one Pence gave Arpaio in Tempe on Tuesday is just the sort of thing the 85-year-old former sheriff needs to build some momentum. If he is smart, he will put that Pence line of praise in every single TV and radio ad he runs between now and the end of August.
While Trump (and, by extension, Pence) are not super popular in the whole of Arizona, the President and his vice president remain very popular figures within the Republican primary electorate. If Arpaio can position himself as the Trump candidate — and the President has praised him, too — it could give the controversial sheriff a real chance at the nomination.
Which would be a disaster for Republicans clinging to a one-seat margin in the Senate. Arizona is one of only three GOP-held seats the party has to defend this November — and it can’t afford to lose it before the general election even starts.
Mike Pence knows all of that. Which makes his praise of Arpaio all the more baffling.

Trump Will Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in Wednesday speech — report

A White House official will not confirm the Axios report, saying only that president ‘is still considering options and we have nothing to announce’

US President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran deal from the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2017. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

US President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran deal from the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2017. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

WASHINGTON — Defying longstanding American policy, US President Donald Trump will give a speech Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to an Axios report on Friday.

A White House spokesman, contacted by The Times of Israel on Friday afternoon, would not confirm the story. “The president has always said it is a matter of when, not if,” the official said. “The president is still considering options and we have nothing to announce.”

The Axios report cited two sources with direct knowledge of Trump’s intentions.

The US Embassy building in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, December 28, 2016. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Multiple reports surfaced this week that the president would for the second time waive a congressional mandate requiring the US embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but that he would take the dramatic step of formally recognizing the holy city as Israel’s capital.

An Israeli television report on Wednesday, for instance, said that the Israeli government considered it extremely likely that Trump would declare in the next few days that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that he is instructing his officials to prepare to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The White House rejected that report as “premature.”

On Tuesday, US Vice President Mike Pence said Trump “is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Pence spoke at a gathering of UN ambassadors, diplomats and Jewish leaders at an event in New York commemorating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote for partition of Palestine, which led to the creation of the State of Israel.

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks as he attends a Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote calling for ‘the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel’ at the Queens Museum on November 28, 2017 in New York. (AFP/ Timothy A. Clary)

Declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a highly controversial move, with the potential to spark unrest in the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal reported that US officials were contacting embassies in the region warning them to prepare for the possibility of violent protests.

A presidential declaration could risk producing an angry response from the Palestinians and other Arab allies, like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, just as the Trump White House is preparing to move forward with its attempts to broker a Mideast peace accord.

Israel says Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish state, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been tasked with leading the administration’s peace efforts. He will participate in a highly anticipated keynote conversation this Sunday at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington, DC, marking a rare occasion when he will give public remarks and discuss the administration’s peace push.

Jared Kushner exits the West Wing of the White House October 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via JTA)

At that event, he will likely face questions about the Trump team’s position vis-a-vis Jerusalem and how that might impact their quest to forge an agreement between the sides.

A 1995 law requires the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but provides the president with the prerogative to postpone the move every six months on national security grounds.

Each of Trump’s three immediate predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — repeatedly exercised that right. Trump, for his part, signed the waiver when faced with his first deadline in June. He will have to decide whether to sign it for the second time in his presidency on Monday. (While the official deadline is December 1, since that date falls on a Friday this year, the deadline is extended until after the weekend.)

Israel’s Channel 10 TV news, citing sources in Israel,  said there were three camps in the White House with differing opinions on how to deal with the issue.

The first was pushing the president not to sign the waiver and start the process of moving the embassy, and also recognize Jerusalem at Israel’s capital. “It could happen” that the president “simply doesn’t sign” the waiver, Channel 10 reported Friday.

A second camp says don’t do anything, sign the waiver and don’t recognize Jerusalem as it would harm prospects for a peace process and hurt ties with Arab states. The third group is urging the president to sign the waiver, but make a symbolic gesture by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, the report said.

READ MORE:

Can The World Survive An Ignorant Ass Total Fool In The Oval Office?

 

I’m just saying, just in case you may feel that we have one of these creatures daring to step foot in ‘Our’ Oval Office, what would you think about it, how would you feel? I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, I am a registered Independent and personally both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make me sick at my stomach to either see a picture of them or to hear their voices. Most all American adults knew and know that Hillary is an habitual liar, but did we not also know this about Donald Trump? In my opinion last November we the people knew that one of them was going to end up being the next President of Our Country. To me that was a disgusting reality that we were going to have to learn to live with, if such a thing is possible.

 

Even though I really can’t stand Hillary or Bill Clinton it is and was my belief that at least Hillary is somewhat intelligent where Donald is, was and will always be, a total scumbag dumb-ass. By his actions pretty much every single day since he has been in Office he has constantly proven me to be correct on this issue. Pretty much every time this Affluenza adult child Tweets or opens his mouth he proves what a low life ignorant horses behind that he is. He likes to say that he knows more about everything than the professionals in the field know. Think about his stupid statements on how he knows more about the issues in the Middle-East than any of the Generals do, when in fact he constantly proves himself to be totally clueless. I believe that Hillary would have been a disaster as President, Donald Trump has proven himself to be the biggest idiot to ever step foot in Our White House.

 

Do you remember when during the elections one of the ‘propaganda slogans’ that Mr. Trump floated to the gullible was “lock her up?” Just like the propaganda about building “the wall” that he said over and over again that ‘Mexico was going to pay for?” One of the many things that used to bother me about George H.W. Bush when he was President was that every thing he did or said had to have a ‘slogan’ attached to it. Personally I believe that we the people need to start a new slogan and throw it at Mr. Trump every where he goes or whenever he opens his mouth. Well, actually two slogans, three if you count the “Affluenza adult child”, fitting for him is “Donald Fake News Trump” and finally, “Lock Him Up.” I do have one prediction and it is that before the 2018 elections ever get here, Mike Pence will be the President. I believe that Mr. Mueller is going to have plenty of evidence to not just have Donald Trump impeached, but imprisoned, along with several members of his family. The only real question may well be is if Mr. Trump gets impeached before he gets us involved in a war with North Korea and China and possibly even with Russia and Iran. The man is a moron who only cares about himself and no one else. Would he start a war hoping that the Country would rally around him and forget about his other treasonous acts? As an old and very good friend used to say “we shall see what we shall see.” In the mean time the people of the world need to pray that God will have mercy on us all, at least as long as this idiot is in Our Oval Office!

Factory deal Trump touted puts the ‘con’ in ‘Foxconn’ — and how taxpayers will get taken

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

How a factory deal Trump touted puts the ‘con’ in ‘Foxconn’ — and how taxpayers will get taken

The entirety of President Trump’s job-creation strategy was visible July 26 during a White House ceremony to announce a deal bringing a $10-billion video-screen factory for the Taiwan electronics company Foxconn to southeastern Wisconsin.

The elements included a claim about the number of jobs that was unverifiable and not believable; a description of the cost and terms of the $3 billion in tax incentives dangled in front of Foxconn that concealed their astronomical cost for Wisconsin taxpayers; the presence of political sycophants (in this case, Vice President Mike Pence, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and House Speaker Paul Ryan, [R-Wis.]) to attest to Trump’s role in negotiating the deal; and grandiose assertions by Trump himself that it’s all about him: “If I didn’t get elected, he wouldn’t be spending $10 billion,” Trump said of Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, also in attendance.

Left unexpressed were doubts that the factory would ever actually be built, and that even if so, it would employ the extraordinary workforce of 13,000 that was claimed. Reporters on hand might have delved into that issue, but no questions were permitted.

So let’s provide some of the context that was overlooked on that occasion. Experts who have examined the proposed deal, which must be approved by the Wisconsin Legislature, have concluded that it won’t begin to pay off for state taxpayers for more than two decades, if then — or ever.

A good portion of the jobs will go not to Wisconsin workers, but to residents of Illinois, meaning that Wisconsinites will pay, and their cross-border neighbors will profit. The deal would exempt the Foxconn plant from a host of environmental regulations, placing the local water supply and ecology at risk.

In other words, the announcement was all flash and precious little substance. But what substance is known is disturbing.

“This is a transfer of wealth from Wisconsin taxpayers to Foxconn shareholders,” says Greg LeRoy, the head of Good Jobs First, which tracks government economic incentives handed over to corporations. LeRoy observes that even if the plant reaches its projected complement of 13,000 workers, that means the deal would cost about $230,000 per job.

“The average worker at Foxconn is never going to pay $230,000 more in state and local taxes than the public services she and her family will consume during her work tenure there,” he says. “For the taxpayers, it’s a guaranteed loser.” If the size of the workforce falls short, he noted, the cost per job could be much higher.

Under Gov. Walker, who briefly ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, Wisconsin has been something of a sinkhole in economic development schemes. After Walker privatized the state’s main job-development agency, it became ensnared in scandal after scandalwhile failing to make much of a mark on job growth. The defining job program of Walker’s administration was a $6-million grant in 2014 to Ashley Furniture, which was allowed to lay off half of its 3,800 Wisconsin workers as part of the deal. A few weeks after the grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. was approved, Ashley’s owners donated $20,000 to the reelection campaign of the development group’s chairman, Gov. Walker.

The Foxconn proposal boasts similar elements of a glittery political veneer concealing signs of rot from the inside out. One blow was landed in Madison on Aug. 8 by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which analyzes bills with budget implications. Among other points, the bureau pointed out that Foxconn would receive at least $1.35 billion and possibly as much as $2.9 billion in tax incentive payments even if it didn’t owe any Wisconsin tax, that increased state tax revenue from job growth wouldn’t offset the incentive spending until at least 2042 — and then only if the full complement of 13,000 jobs was reached and all went to Wisconsin residents.

But the bureau acknowledged that anywhere from 10% to half of the jobs could go to nonresidents. That’s because the proposed factory site in the Racine-Kenosha area — Paul Ryan’s home district — is within easy commuting distance of Illinois. If there are fewer jobs, and fewer go to state residents, the bureau said, the break-even point could be years or decades later.

Whether the plant ever will host 13,000 workers is doubtful; the legislative analysis acknowledged that some estimates place the probable payroll as low as 3,000. Trump touted the plant as a “state-of-the-art manufacturing facility,” but state-of-the-art electronics factories are replacing human assembly workers with robots, a trend the efficiency-minded Foxconn is unlikely to abandon.

The most important aspect of Trump’s participation in the Foxconn announcement may be what is says about his job development policies. They don’t seem to be aimed at anything special except generating photo opportunities. Foxconn itself is getting a reputation for making lavish promises and letting them lapse, as appears to have been the case with a project the company touted for Harrisburg, Pa., in 2013. That deal was for a $30-million plant employing 500 workers. But the plant hasn’t materialized.

Ever optimistic, Pennsylvania officials participated in a seven-state beauty contest Foxconn staged this year, playing Pennsylvania and Wisconsin off against Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Texas in its quest for the most lavish state and local incentives. This race to the bottom has the effect of all but eliminating any genuine economic gains the ostensible winner can claim from landing the plant.

Yet Trump explicitly endorsed such interstate shakedowns in December, when he bragged about keeping a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana. Employers “can leave from state to state and they can negotiate good deals with the different states and all of that,” Trump said then. “But leaving the country is going to be very, very difficult.”

Even Trump’s victory in the Carrier episode was predictably ephemeral. Even though the company supposedly pledged to retain more than 1,000 jobs rather than move them to Mexico, in June it emerged that Carrier will lay off more than 600 of its workers by the end of this year.

In Wisconsin, Foxconn is insisting that the state Legislature enact the package of proposed incentives by the end of September, or no deal. That means that for all the preening at the White House last month, the deal may end up like others sponsored by Trump and offered by Foxconn: real hype and false hopes.

North Korea Launches Missile: Blows Up Almost Immediately: Sources: S. Korea, U.S.

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) An attempted missile launch by North Korea on Sunday failed, US and South Korean defense officials told CNN.

The attempted launch occurred a day after the regime of Kim Jong Un showed off a bevy of new missiles and launchers at a large-scale military parade on its most important holiday.
A South Korean defense official said the action took place in Sinpo, a port city in eastern North Korea. That was the site of a ballistic missile test earlier this month in which the projectile fell into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
The North Koreans use Sinpo shipyard for their submarine activity, and US satellites have observed increased activity there in April, a US official said at the time of the previous test.
South Korean and US intelligence officials are trying to determine what type of missile was used Sunday.
Here are the latest developments:
• US Vice President Mike Pence, en route to South Korea for a previously scheduled trip, was briefed on the launch, administration officials said. Pence and President Donald Trump have been in contact, aides to the vice president said.
• “The President and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The President has no further comment,” US Defense Secretary James Mattis said.
• South Korean officials called a meeting of the country’s National Security Council.
• US Pacific Command said it tracked a missile launch at 5:21 p.m. ET and said the missile blew up almost immediately.
• At this point, US military officials don’t believe the missile had intercontinental capabilities, a US defense official told CNN. The official said the missile blew up so quickly there is limited data.
• CNN’s Will Ripley in Pyongyang, North Korea, reported there was no immediate confirmation from North Korean state media about the launch.

Rising tensions

North Korea’s actions come as tensions on the Korean Peninsula have spiked to alarming levels.
The US Navy dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group to the region last weekend, and Trump has been tweeting this week that if China can’t rein in North Korea’s nuclear program, the United States will.
Pence is headed to Asia this weekend, with planned stops in Seoul; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tokyo and Sydney.
Analysts had expected North Korea to conduct a nuclear missile test around the time of his visit, possibly on Saturday as the nation celebrated the 105th birthday of its founder — Kim II Sung, the late grandfather of North Korea’s current leader.
The status of the North Korean underground nuclear test program is unchanged, a senior US defense official told CNN’s Barbara Starr, and a test could come at any time.
The reported failed test comes at a time of year when North Korea has previously tried to launch missiles. Last year, Pyongyang attempted to launch a Musudan missile on April 15, an auspicious date on which millions celebrate Kim II Sung’s birthday.
That test also failed, as there was “no evidence the missile reached flight,” a US official told CNN.

V.P. Pence Is Floating His ‘Healthy Indiana 2.0’ Program To Replace Obamacare

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEWS SITE POLITICO)

When former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence embraced Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion with conservative twists — such as requiring enrollees to contribute to their care — critics lamented poor people would be locked out while backers cheered the program’s focus on personal responsibility.

Neither side’s expectations were quite borne out. Two years later, as the program emerges as a national model thanks to Pence’s role in the Trump administration, the reality on the ground shows what happens when political philosophy collides with the practical challenges of providing health care to tens of thousands of people, many of them in crisis.

Advocates for the poor in Indiana argue that liberal fears of depressed enrollment were overblown. More than 400,000 Hoosiers are enrolled, despite state requirements that low-income residents make nominal monthly contributions to their care or face stiff penalties.

Likewise, Republicans’ contention that the system would promote personal responsibility and prod beneficiaries to ration their care and make better decisions about what treatments to seek also turned out to be overly optimistic.

By all accounts, the expansion — known as the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 — has made a difference. Health officials in Scott County, Ind., a poverty-stricken community about 30 miles from Louisville, Ky., paint a picture of a program that’s bolstered a patchy social safety net — especially during a major HIV outbreak triggered by the opioid epidemic — without bankrupting the Hoosier State or punishing enrollees.

To be sure, the program isn’t perfect, they say. But they overwhelmingly give more positive reviews than not.

“I feel that it has been a good success,” said Dawn Sanders, an outreach worker for Covering Kids & Families of Indiana, a statewide consumer group working in Scott County. “It’s working.”

Healthy Indiana’s influence is expected to increase in the months ahead whether or not Obamacare survives, as state officials and the Trump administration look to replicate some of its conservative features, potentially unleashing a wave of new state restrictions on how non-disabled adults get coverage without any action from Congress.

“The Healthy Indiana Plan has long been, and continues to be, a national model for state-led Medicaid reforms,” HHS Secretary Tom Price wrote in response to senators after his confirmation hearing.

“It is important that Medicaid’s design helps its members to transition successfully from the program into commercial health insurance plans, as [Healthy Indiana’s] consumer-driven approach and underlying incentive structures encourage,” he told lawmakers.

Seema Verma, meanwhile, a Pence ally who helped design the program before she was tapped to run CMS, now has the power to give states greater flexibility to reshape their own programs according to conservative principles.

Kentucky and Arizona have already borrowed aspects of Indiana’s plan while others, including Wisconsin, could move to enact new limits that resemble the approach.

Indiana’s plan also provides a measure of political cover to lawmakers in red states where supporting Obamacare’s coverage expansion is still deeply controversial. Republicans across the country have found it easier to back an expansion of government-funded health care for the poor if it more closely resembles a private insurance market. Yet liberals remain deeply skeptical because of the way the system is designed to cut people off who don’t make monthly payments, at least temporarily.

Both sides could find their assumptions challenged based on the experience in places like Scott County.

The Indiana plan does punish people above the poverty line who stop making monthly contributions by locking them out of coverage for six months. But because most enrollees have incomes below the poverty line, lockouts have been rare, according to state evaluations of the first year of the program. Instead, those below the poverty line who don’t pay are bumped from plans with more generous benefits — including coverage of vision and dental care and better prescription drug benefits into skimpier plans with higher out-of-pocket costs.

“It sounds like, ‘Oh my gosh, people are going to have to pay.’ But people that were uninsured were paying for it already,” if they go to the doctor, said Beth Wrobel, who runs a federally qualified health center in Valparaiso, in the northern part of the state.

Diabetic patients who visited Wrobel’s clinic before the start of Healthy Indiana incurred significantly higher costs paying for their regular medical supplies and routine testing, she said. Now, under the more generous benefit package, “the most you have to pay is $26 a month, and that’s at the high end. Most of our patients pay between $1 and $10 a month,” Wrobel said.

“For the same amount that you were paying at that moment for your diabetic care, you could get medical, dental, behavioral health, optometry and pharmacy. [Healthy Indiana] treated the whole body,” she said.

Randy White, CEO of Fayette Regional Health System in Connersville, in the east-central part of the state, agreed that Healthy Indiana “is not harsh.”

If the liberal specter of a punitive system pushing out enrollees hasn’t quite materialized, neither has conservatives’ vision of a market-like system where patients with “skin in the game” make hard choices about their own health spending. That’s because family members, health workers and nonprofits are helping cover their out-of-pocket costs.

“With some people, I think [personal responsibility] might be a little bit lost,” Sanders said in her office at the Scott County Partnership, a nonprofit. “We try and do what we can in the little bit of time we have with them. But you can only give them so many pamphlets.”

About 2,100 of the enrollees who gained coverage through Indiana’s expansion live in Scott County, a poor, sparsely populated area that gained notoriety where an HIV outbreak took off two years ago, fueled by needle sharing and opioid abuse.

Sanders recalled how a man with substance abuse problems signed up for health coverage in the small town of Austin, Ind., which had set up a “one-stop shop” to get people enrolled and provide medical services like HIV screenings and vaccinations.

“He knew he had hit rock bottom. And he knew he needed help,” Sanders said. “He no longer lives in the area, but he had to be able to get away from this. He has stayed clean this whole time. He now has his children back. We have quite a few success stories, as far as that’s concerned.”

As of early April, there were 216 county residents with HIV, according to Scott County Health Department Administrator Michelle Goodin, but roughly three-quarters of the patients don’t have enough of the virus in their blood to spread it to others. New cases are still being diagnosed.

“We’ve got about 30 to 40 people usually that are HIV-positive in our facility,” said Sheriff Dan McClain, whose staff helps prisoners apply for Medicaid so that they can receive benefits, including mental health and substance abuse treatment, as soon as they are released. “We offer them a test for HIV and … we offer to sign them up for HIP 2.0,” he said.

With an ad-hoc support network fortifying the safety net, some liberal groups and Democratic lawmakers question whether the conservative tweaks are really adding value or simply burdening enrollees with unnecessary complications. Without those hurdles, they say enrollment would be even higher.

Progressives also fear that if the Indiana model is embraced in states that initially did traditional expansions of Medicaid, it would erode enrollment gains.

“Work requirements, lock-out periods, time limits and imposition of onerous premiums and cost-sharing on Medicaid families, who are generally living on a budget of roughly less than $15,000 per year, are not only punitive but also counterproductive in the long-term,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) wrote in a letter to HHS last month to discourage it from approving additional restrictions, many of which would be program firsts. “Requiring poor families to pay more than they can afford for care makes them less likely to access the care they need and less likely to maintain their coverage.”

State surveys of how Healthy Indiana is working present a fragmentary picture, and despite the program’s popularity in Indiana, there are some signs of hampered enrollment because of its complex structure and broader concerns about affordability. For example, roughly half of the enrollees in the more comprehensive benefit package worried about being able to afford their monthly payments. Left-leaning groups have used the data to raise flags about harmful implications for other states.

The first-year report also estimated that roughly 1,240 enrollees received financial help from nonprofits to pay their premiums, a paltry slice of overall enrollment. But residents here believe many more enrollees likely rely on family members, friends and others sources undetected by official surveys. Sanders and others pointed out that the premium cost of keeping someone covered in the program’s more generous benefit package — which includes vision and dental benefits as well as more robust coverage of prescriptions — is as little as $12 for an entire year.

“We’ve paid it out of our pocket many times at the office just to get them hooked up,” said Jeanni McCarty, a nurse at Foundations Family Medicine in Austin. McCarty said she has four family members affected by HIV and five relatives who have passed away from drug abuse-related problems.

Indiana officials by the end of the month will send CMS two more reports, including one that specifically examines the use of health savings-like accounts to help beneficiaries cover their costs. Pence’s successor, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, has already asked the Trump administration to extend the program through January 2021 with a handful of tweaks — though notably absent is a request to institute a work requirement as a condition of receiving benefits.

“We don’t want to put policies and programs in place that are not member-centric,” said Jennifer Walthall, secretary of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration. “Increasing barriers is not the name of the game.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence To Travel To South Korea, Japan And Hawaii This Weekend

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) Amid increasing tension with North Korea, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to South Korea Saturday, on a scheduled trip as part of his first official visit to the Asia-Pacific region.

The trip comes at a critical moment for the Trump administration and US allies, after escalated posturing from North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and growing concerns that the country may mark its most important holiday on Saturday with its sixth nuclear test.
Along with his visit to Seoul, the vice president’s tour will also include stops in Tokyo, Jakarta, Sydney and Hawaii. According to a White House foreign policy adviser, the trip is intended as a chance for Pence to lay out the administration’s policies to US allies in the region, and to offer an opportunity for him to develop personal relationships with government and business leaders.
North Korea tensions
  • Kim Jong Un shows symbol of strength
  • Nuclear test site ‘primed and ready’
Commitment will be the key message the vice president brings to US allies in the Asia-Pacific — both on security and the economy. Officials say the primary goal of the trip will be to reinforce regional security alliances. To this end, Pence will meet with the acting President of South Korea, Hwang Kyo-ahn, to reinforce the US commitment to consult with South Korea over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
Security will almost certainly be a key point in discussions with Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, who said Thursday that North Korea may now may have the capability to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve gas.

Japanese PM issues warning about North Korea

 Japanese PM issues warning about North Korea 01:16

Along with a commitment to security, Pence will stress the Trump administration’s commitment to economic engagement in the region, and according to officials, communicate that the withdrawal from the Transpacific Trade Partnership should not be seen as a retreat.
In Tokyo, Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso will kick off the US-Japanese economic dialogue, which was first announced in February during Abe’s visit to the White House.
According to officials, these discussions between the vice president and Japanese leaders will be more about establishing a framework for future discussions, rather than delving into specific industries or working out a bilateral trade agreement.
The tour will also offer the vice president the opportunity to spend time with US troops abroad. In Tokyo, Pence will deliver remarks aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and will also visit troops in South Korea and Hawaii.
The trip comes as the tenuous stability of the region is resonating for the Trump administration. The Pentagon recently deployed a US naval strike group to the region in response to last week’s missile test by North Korea.

USS Carl Vinson heads to Korean Peninsula

 USS Carl Vinson heads to Korean Peninsula 01:18

And, in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, President Trump said he would be willing to make concessions on trade with China in exchange for their help deterring North Korea. “That’s worth having not as good a trade deal as I would normally be able to make,” said the President.
During a meeting at the White House on Thursday, Trump said that North Korea “is a problem” that will be “taken care of.”
Now, this upcoming trip will offer Pence the opportunity to deliver that message to the region in person.

President Trump Call India’s Prime Minister Modi “A True Friend And Partner”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

Trump tells Modi India ‘a true friend and partner’, invites PM to US ‘later this year’

WORLD Updated: Jan 25, 2017 07:26 IST

Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington

Highlight Story

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a scheduled telephonic conversation at 11:30pm IST on Tuesday.(Agencies File)

In a phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the US considers India a “true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world”, according to a White House statement.The two leaders also discussed opportunities to “strengthen the partnership between the United States and India in broad areas such as the economy and defense”, the statement said without citing specific areas, sectors or goals.

Modi and Trump, who were speaking for the first time after the new US president took charge last Friday, also discussed “security in the region of South and Central Asia” and, once again the statement left out details.

South and Central Asia cover many areas of mutual interest to both India and the United States including Pakistan and Afghanistan and it could not be immediately confirmed if they discussed the drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan.

Read more

But the two leaders resolved, according to the White House statement, “that the United States and India stand shoulder to shoulder in the global fight against terrorism”, which has been a priority for both of them and both countries.

Trump is hosting Modi later in the year, but it was, once again, not immediately clear if that will be in September-October when the Indian prime minister comes to the US for the UN general assembly meeting, or some other time.

But the two, who first spoke in November when Modi was among the first foreign leaders to call Trump on his election, are likely to meet during the next meeting of the G-20, which is scheduled to take place in Hamburg, Germany in July.

Since that first call, India engaged with Trump on two separate occasions: The first was a meeting between Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar and then Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, and the second on December 19 when Ajit Doval, national security adviser to PM Modi, met Trump’s NSA Michael Flynn.

Read more

And now the call. The US statement contained no details and it was not known if trade in services, read H-1B, came up during their phone call, as many had expected, since it being the one issue that had agitated New Delhi the most about Trump.

The fate of the temporary US visa programme for high-skilled foreign workers, which is at the heart to India’s burgeoning IT exports to the US, seemed uncertain, given the president’s own reservations about it, and those of leading members of his team.

They believe the H-1B programme is being abused by the US companies to outsource American jobs to temporary foreign workers, a large number of them from India, and they have been considering ways to make it harder for that to happen.

“There is no other area of potential dispute or differences with the United States under President Trump,” said an Indian official, who spoke strictly on background. He added, “H-1B is the only problem for us as of now.”

In response to a question about India-US relations, White House press secretary Sean Spicer had said Monday that as with other countries, the Trump administration is focussed on access to markets in manufacturing and services.

Since being sworn-in last Friday, the new president has begun engaging with world leaders and has spoken to prime minister and president of neighboring Canada and Mexico first — with whom he plans to renegotiate the NAFTA trade deal.

He has also talked since with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who he has invited to to a meeting in early February. And he meets Teresa May, prime minister of America’s closest ally the United Kingdom, on Friday.

The Tuesday call with Modi, on the second day of Trump’s first week in office, is being taken as sign of the priority he is attaching to the relationship, after an unprecedented outreach to the Indian American community during election.

At an election rally in New Jersey, Trump had said on his watch as president that India and the US will be “best friends” and, added in a typically Trumpian hyperbole that “there will be no relationship more important to me”.

At the suggestion of the Republican Hindu Coalition founder Shalli Kumar, who had organised the rally, Trump recorded a campaign call modeled on Modi’s election slogan “Abki baar Modi sarkar”, replacing Modi with Trump.

Also, Prime Minister Modi appears to have an admirer in Steve Bannon, chief strategist and senior counseller to the president, who had in 2014 called Modi’s election a “great victory … very much based on … Reaganesque principles”.

Bannon was then chief executive officer of Breitbart News, a stridently conservative news publication, and would become in 2016 a leading and early supporter of Trump, and later went on to head his campaign in August.

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