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7 Lines Trump Just Gifted To North Korea's Propaganda Machine
It's almost 7 a.m. here on the west coast of the United States. As I and most of America slept, our president was on television praising a dictator, who currently has more than 200,000 of his own citizens locked up in Nazi-like prison camps, as a "very talented man" who "loves his people."
Admittedly, I didn't have high hopes ahead of the meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un, but, if by some miracle, the two leaders could have worked out a deal in Singapore that would have ended (or at least greatly reduced) hostilities on the Korean peninsula and brought Pyongyang's denuclearization, I would have been the first to praise Trump in heroic terms.
Whether tensions between North Korea and the United States are reduced, and whether North Korea decides to actually go through with denuclearization after its latest pledge (of many!) to do so, remains to be seen. But one thing we can be sure of is that North Korea's state-run KCNA television network will be flush with plenty of content for quite a while.
Here's what Trump gave them to work with:
"Really, he’s got a great personality. He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that, but he loves his people." — Trump talking about Kim to Voice of America
"We are going to get out of the war games that cost so much money. You know where we — cause I think, number one, it’s very provocative, and I want to do it, and I think they’re very happy about it, because it is so provocative." — Trump talking about joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, using the word provocative that North Korea often uses to describe them, to Voice of America
"We’re not gonna play the war games. You know, I wanted to stop the war games, I thought they were very provocative. But I also think they’re very expensive. We’re running the country properly, I think they’re very, very expensive. To do it, we have to fly planes in from Guam — that’s six and a half hours away. Big bombers and everything else, I said, ‘Who’s paying for this?’ I mean, who pays, in order to practice." —Trump to ABC News, on joint U.S.-South Korea exercises
"His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor." — Trump talking about the people of North Korea, who would be imprisoned with their entire families if they weren't fanatical about Kim, to ABC News
"I think he trusts me, and I trust him." — Trump talking about his relationship with Kim to ABC News
"I would love to have him at the White House — whatever it takes — and I would love to have him at the White House, and I think he’d love to be there." — Trump on Kim potentially coming to the White House, to ABC News
"Well he is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it, and run it tough — I don't say it was nice. I don't say anything about it — he ran it, very few people at that age. You can take one out of 10,000 that probably couldn't do it." — Trump on Kim taking over dictator duties from his father
Looking at what North Korea gained versus the U.S. in this historic meeting, it's hard to see this as anything but a huge win for Pyongyang — especially in their propaganda department — while Washington gets mere promises that are eerily similar to those broken in the past.
Trump and Kim's joint statement says the two countries will commit to "peace and prosperity" and work toward "complete denuclearization" — but it offers little detail: no meaningful steps toward those goals, no process for verification. In essence, it's a document of hopes and dreams rather than trust, but verify.
So we in the United States are left to "wait and see what happens" — as Trump loves to say — while Kim returns home with something tangible he can use for years to come: the recognition and praise of the president of the United States.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.
The Air Force is investigating whether an airman smoked weed at a missile alert facility for nuclear Minuteman ICBMs
The Air Force is investigating reports that an airman consumed marijuana while assigned to one of the highly-sensitive missile alert facility (MAF) responsible for overseeing Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.