This was entirely predictable: Trump cancels Korea Summit

Back in March South Korean officials briefed President Trump on their recent visit to Pyongyang, where the North Korean leader expressed a willingness to discuss nuclear disarmament with the U.S. and said he would suspend all nuclear and missile tests during the dialogue.

Trump impulsively agreed to a summit with the man he had derided as “Little Rocket Man” in his Twitter rants, without any strategic plan or even an ask for North Korea. By doing so he did what no other president had ever done before: he gave legitimacy to the murderous dictatorship of Kim Jong Un and elevated North Korea to equal footing with the United States as a nuclear power on the world stage.

Trump started praising Kim Jong Un as “honorable” and even canceled a B-52 bomber training exercise with South Korea after the South Korean government expressed concerns that it could generate tensions before the summit. The White House even minted a Commemorative ‘Peace Talks’ Coin Ahead of the Trump-Kim Summit.

Then all of this suddenly changed today when Trump just as impulsively canceled the Korea summit that he had so impulsively agreed to in March. This was entirely predictable. It was never going to happen.

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post explains What really led to Trump’s North Korea faceplant:

Looks like President Trump may have to wait for that Nobel Peace Prize he has been hoping for:

President Trump on Thursday canceled a planned summit next month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, citing “tremendous anger and open hostility” from the rogue nation in a letter explaining his abrupt decision.

“I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump said to Kim in a letter released by the White House on Thursday morning.

This is what we call “cutting your losses.” We’ve had reports in recent days that Trump was having second thoughts about the summit after learning, to his shock and dismay, that the North Koreans were not eager to simply give up all their nuclear weapons right away. So it appears that after a couple of weeks in which he and his administration seemed to be trying everything they could think of to sabotage any chance for an agreement, Trump decided that canceling the summit now was preferable to holding the summit and coming away with nothing after raising expectations so extraordinarily high.

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Evolution, Climate Change, and The Big Bang Theory to be Eliminated From Arizona K-12

Superintendent Diane Douglas

Superintendent Diane Douglas

Later this year, the Arizona State Board of Education will consider adopting new K-12 standards in both Science and History/Social Studies.

The consideration of standards for these core subjects has nearly always met increased scrutiny and controversial consideration from segments of the population with different perspectives because these disciplines touch on topics that can potentially challenge a person’s or group’s belief system.

This year is no exception as the new proposed Arizona K-12 Science Standards have invited negative reactions from members of the mainstream education and science community because of the terms and concepts it has attempted to strike away and the closed-door process Superintendent Diane Douglas’s unknown internal reviewers adopted after being presented with the original draft version of the standards.

Forbidden terms, reworded behind closed doors.

Evolution is the most prominent term altered in the proposed new Arizona K-12 Science Standards. Stricken mostly wherever it is mentioned and redefined as the Theory of Evolution, the word is not even included among the many key terms the reviewers added. Several standards and terms pertaining to the process do remain in a more openly worded form. (Changes in green writing can be found on pages 4, 20, 27, 30, 32, 42, 44, 46, 64, 69, and 72 of the Proposed Science Standards)

The term Climate Change is nowhere to be found. There is a sentence that includes the phrase change of climate and there are standards that allude to it and some concepts/terms. However, discussion of alternative energy options, depending on the grade level is nonexistent, stricken, or reworded. (Changes in green writing can be found on pages 21, 25, 40, and 60 of the Proposed Science Standards)

The Big Bang Theory: Stricken entirely and the more ambiguous consideration of all theories of the universe has been substituted in a probable attempt to appeal to the proponents of Intelligent Design. (Page 62 of the Proposed Science Standards)

One saving grace in these standards is at least we have progressed since the time of the Scopes Trial that the geological ages of the planet and continental drift are included and do not seem to be in question.

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Resist normalizing criminal behavior in the age of Trump

This is not normal and should not be happening. Period. Full stop.

Today the FBI and intelligence agencies will provide a briefing in an ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Russia to Midnight Run Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who previously had to recuse himself from his own committee’s Russia investigation because he was caught conspiring with the Trump administration to fabricate the conspiracy theories that the Obama administration surveilled Trump Tower and inappropriately unmasked the identities of Trump campaign officials picked up on signal intelligence to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation; and Trey “Benghazi!” Gowdy, who spent years promoting Benghazi conspiracy theories against Hillary Clinton that amounted to nothing according to the findings of his own committee reports. These are two of the least credible partisan members of Congress.

More importantly, this meeting is going to occur without the presence of their Democratic counterparts. This is entirely improper and unacceptable. Moreover, Trey Gowdy does not possess the necessary security clearance for this classified intelligence briefing (he is not a member of the Gang of Eight).

There is no doubt that this meeting is certain to result in Nunes and/or Gowdy selectively leaking cherry-picked classified intelligence (a crime) to FAUX News aka Trump TV as soon as today to support the new conspiracy theory of “Spygate,” a label that Trump and his propaganda machine have concocted in order to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation. The Special Counsel should be considering charging them as accessories to Trump’s conspiracy to obstruct justice, which is what this briefing constitutes.

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Congress Made it Harder to Give Teachers Raises

Distributed via OtherWords.org

[Note to readers: Due to technical difficulties, I’ve not been able to post for awhile, but the problem seems corrected. This is a piece I had published at our free syndication service. OtherWords.org, two weeks ago, for those who’ve not seen it elsewhere]

In just a few months, we’ve seen teachers in five states walk out of the classroom to protest their abysmal pay.

Stingy state budgets are mostly to blame for low teacher pay and poor school conditions, but there’s a federal tax connection, too. Unfortunately, last year’s Republican tax plan could make keeping good teachers in the classroom more difficult than ever.

Raising teacher pay requires money, which at some point requires new state tax revenue.

Now, most state taxpayers will tolerate tax increases when they know those taxes will fund education. But in many places, state lawmakers have only so much room to raise taxes before voters express their displeasure come election time.

The jam state governments may find themselves in is that Trump and his Republican friends in Congress effectively just increased state income and property taxes. A lot. Which means voters won’t be too keen to see another increase so soon.

How can Congress increase state taxes? By increasing the real cost of state taxes people already pay, that’s how. Continue reading

GOP Congress Candidate Lea “Chapter 7” Peterson Squirms on Trump Question

Lea Marquez Peterson filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to unload $3.2 million in debt, tax liens and a judgment.

Lea Marquez Peterson filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to unload $3.2 million in debt, tax liens, and a judgment.

Lea “Chapter 7” Marquez-Peterson spent most of a recent MSNBC interview ducking questions — at first disavowing Trump because she is a “local candidate,” then later saying she would be “honored” to have him visit Tucson.

Peterson is a Republican candidate for Congress in Tucson’s CD2. There are 7 Democratic candidates vying for the chance to run against her.

No criticism of anti-Hispanic ex-sheriff

She played dumb when it came to Trump’s pardon of convicted ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio. “I really don’t have a position on President Trump’s pardoning of Sheriff Joe.”

REALLY? Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey court orders to stop his immigration roundups based on racially profiling Hispanic people.

She runs a ring of Hispanic chambers of commerce that she says has 1,800 members, but they serve as platforms for Governor Ducey and other Republican officials.

She said she’d likely support a discharge effort in House of Representatives to force a vote on legislation to support Dreamers. She defended Trump’s calling immigrants as “animals,” because she said he was referring to gang members from Mexico.

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The GOP’s war on the Department of Justice and the rule of law

When President Trump publicly demanded that the Justice Department open an investigation into the F.B.I.’s scrutiny of his campaign contacts with Russia, he crossed over a well-established bright line norm of constraint on executive power: The White House does not make decisions about individual law enforcement investigations. The independence of the Department of Justice is to be respected and preserved.

This is especially true when the president himself is the subject of a criminal investigation, or he would abuse the Department of Justice and use it as a weapon against his political opponents. This is what authoritarian despots do in a dictatorship or a banana republic.

This is precisely where the authoritarian Donald Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress are taking this country. They are engaged in the destruction of our long-cherished democratic institutions and norms, and the rule of law.

Charlie Savage writes at the New York Times, By Demanding an Investigation, Trump Challenged a Constraint on His Power:

“It’s an incredible historical moment,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School who helped write a coming scholarly article on the limits of presidential control over the Justice Department. Mr. Trump’s move, she said, “is the culmination of a lot of moments in which he has chipped away at prosecutorial independence, but this is a direct assault.”

Almost since he took office, Mr. Trump has battered the Justice Department’s independence indirectly — lamenting its failure to reopen a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton that found no wrongdoing, and openly complaining that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry. But he had also acknowledged that as president, “I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” as he told a radio interviewer with frustration last fall.

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