The News Memo
Stories this week:
President Trump and Chairman Kim met for the first time last July in Singapore to discuss nuclear disarmament. The meeting was monumental, representing the first time leaders of the two countries had met. The Singapore summit was marked by congeniality; the written agreement, however, contained no tangible commitments. Some criticized the summit, claiming it was primarily a publicity event that legitimized North Korea’s dictator on the world stage. Others were optimistic that the meeting could serve as a starting point for a long-sought goal: the nuclear disarmament of N. Korea.
What happened this week?
President Trump and Kim Jong Un met for “Summit II” in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week to continue discussions on North Korea's nuclear weapon program. Thousands of people lined the streets outside the airport and hotels hoping to catch a glimpse of both leaders.
Although Trump and Kim exchanged smiles, handshakes, and positive words, the summit ended abruptly and early when it became clear a deal would not be made. The two countries left with no tangible agreement, document, or even verbal promise leading many to think that Trump’s strategy to disarm North Korea may be losing credibility.
What were the sticking points?
According to President Trump, Kim Jong Un offered to close down the Yongbyon complex, one of the largest nuclear production facilities in North Korea in exchange for the U.S. to lift all existing sanctions, a move the U.S. was not prepared to make. The U.S. was pushing N. Korea to close down additional nuclear operations outside of Yongbyon.
North Korean officials later disputed this claim later saying they had offered “realistic solutions” and adding that they had merely asked for partial sanction relief.
In a press conference after the meeting, Mr Trump told reporters, “It was all about the sanctions...they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that."
He continued, “Sometimes you have to walk and this was one of those times."
Will there be a Summit III? Although the second summit ended abruptly, both sides have not closed the door for further negotiations, as Trump said, “eventually we’ll get there.”
What’s going on?
Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s former personal lawyers, testified publicly in front of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. The hearing involved plenty of partisan disagreement, as Republicans tried to discredit Cohen as a convicted perjurer while Democrats defended the investigations into Mr. Trump. House members largely fell along party lines in questioning or criticizing Cohen, highlighting the deep partisan divide surrounding the investigations that is likely to continue.
Cohen, who was convicted for tax fraud and lying to Congress in December, leveled criminal accusations at President Trump and attacked his character. Trump replied, saying Cohen was “lying in order to reduce his prison time.” Cohen’s 3-year prison sentence is set to begin in May.
Key remarks by Mr. Cohen
What to look for moving forward
It is unclear if anything Cohen said will affect the ongoing investigations into President Trump. Cohen also implicated Donald Jr. and Allen Weisselberg (CFO of Trump Organization) in the hush money payments. Further scrutiny and a potential testimony from Weisselberg could follow.
A series of recent attacks between India and Pakistan have stoked tensions between the two nuclear powers. The conflicts largely stem around a territorial dispute over the Kashmir region in northern India/Pakistan. Both countries claim complete ownership of the region but each only controls part of it.
Timeline of the Recent Attacks
Suicide bombing in Pulwama (India-controlled portion of Kashmir) by a Pakistani militant kills 40 Indian soldiers
India’s air force conducts strikes on Pakistani militant facilities, claiming they killed hundreds of militants. Pakistan denies the strikes caused mass casualties, but indicates they will respond.
Pakistan conducts airstrikes in the Kashmir region controlled by India. Indian pilots follow the Pakistani fighters across the LoC (Line of Control) and the two planes are shot down. One pilot dies, while the other is captured by Pakistani forces.
Despite these increased tensions, Pakistan has indicated they will release the Indian pilot in captivity as a “peace gesture,” providing optimism that the escalating aggression will be stopped. While there have been mixed reactions from Indian and Pakistani citizens to the attacks, there is a trending social media hashtag #SayNoToWar.
What is the history between Pakistan and India?
Conflict has marked the relationship between Pakistan and India before, but especially since they each gained independence from Britain in 1947. When Britain left in 1947, India and Pakistan was divided into separate countries, but the Kashmir region was left undecided. Since then, there has been religious violence and multiple wars disputing control of the region. Pakistan is majority Muslim (followers of Islam), while India is majority Hindu (followers of Hinduism).
What to look for going forward
Pakistan’s Prime Minister addressed the situation, saying a miscalculation from either side should be avoided "given the weapons we have". India’s Foreign Minister said, "India does not wish to see further escalation of the situation.” The U.S. has urged both sides to steer clear of further military action.
After many years of discussing the iconic Millennial generation, we are beginning to learn about those born after 1997, also known as Generation Z. Pew Research Center recently released a new survey that is getting some attention. It reveals that there is less concern over age-old problems like binge-drinking and drug addiction that has often been found with teenagers, and more on academic pressure, anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
Here’s what the survey shows:
Anxiety and Depression
Among the 920 Americans from ages 13-17 interviewed, Pew Research Center found that 70% said anxiety and depression are a major concern among their peers.
61% of respondents said that they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades. The pressure to receive high grades can be tied to the increasing pressure to attend a 4-year college program. 59% of respondents said that they intend on attending college after finishing high school.
Drugs and Alcohol
Although about half said that drugs and alcohol are a concern among their peers, fewer than one-in-ten say they feel pressured to drink (6%) or do drugs (4%).
The full survey report can be found here
In case you missed it...
House Passes Vote to Overturn Emergency Declaration: The measure will now advance to the Senate, where some Republicans have sided with Democrats in opposing the declaration. Even if the vote passes the Senate, however, it is unlikely there will be enough votes to override a presidential veto.
U.S. economy (GDP) expanded 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2018, exceeding the 2.3% rate expected by economists and placing GDP growth at 2.9% for all of 2018, just below the 3% target put forward by the Trump administration.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel is expected to be formally charged for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust by Israel’s attorney general, just months before his re-election bid in April.
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The News Memo is edited by Madeline Krumel
Sources for this week’s Memo:
The New York Times
After day of compliments, Trump and Kim Jong-un will negotiate face to face
Five Takeaways from Cohen’s Testimony to Congress
The Wall Street Journal
Six Key Takeaways from the Michael Cohen Hearing
Trump-Kim summit breaks down after North Korea demands end to sanctions
India demands Pakistan release pilot as Kashmir crisis intensifies
Michael Cohen: Ex-lawyer tells Congress Trump directed lies
Kashmir: Why India and Pakistan fight over it
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un leave Vietnam without a deal - Bromance on hold
Skirmishing between India and Pakistan could escalate
Pew Research Center
Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers