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Apparently the 2 Koreas are seeking to talk about an agreement in spite of the White House Resident’s rhetoric and childlike banter. This accord could cause a softening of the North’s Hardline and dilute the US’s influence in the area. If this accord works, it is possible that the area including Japan, China and other regional players could assist and join in talks.MA

Al Jazeera and news agencies
an hour ago

A North Korean official says his country will likely take part in the upcoming Winter Olympics held in arch-rival South Korea as fears of war on the divided peninsula continue to subside.
Chang Ung, North Korea’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative, made the comments to reporters in China at Beijing’s international airport, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Saturday.
North Korea will “likely to participate” in the Games in South Korea’s Pyeongchang, Chang said. The Winter Olympics will be held from February 9-25.
Citing unnamed sources, Kyodo and Japanese broadcaster NHK said Chang was on his way to Switzerland where he may meet with IOC officials.
South Korea’s government and Olympic organisers are eager for North Korea to take part in the Games to help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula stemming from Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes – and US threats to target them.North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered to send a delegation to the Olympics in Pyeongchang in a New Year’s speech. North and South Korea have agreed to discuss the Olympics in rare talks at the border – the most militarised in the world – starting on Tuesday.
The reports on Olympic participation also come after South Korea and the US announced they would postpone joint military exercises that rile North Korea. Pyongyang says the war games held multiple times each year are a precursor to an American-led invasion.
Last year, US President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, and Pyongyang responded by warning its new intercontinental ballistic missile could deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States.
But the new year has witnessed a marked softening of mutual animosity that raised the spectre of nuclear war.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told The Associated Press on Friday it remains unclear what next week’s meeting of the two Koreas will achieve.
“Is this the beginning of something? I think it’s premature,” said Tillerson. “We’ll see if the North Koreans come with more than just wanting to talk about the Olympics.”
South Korean opposition parties have struck a cautious tone over the latest developments, warning against making concessions to the North to secure its Olympic participation.
Tillerson called the Koreas meeting a sign that the US-led campaign to isolate North Korea was working.
“It’s an indication the pressure campaign is causing the leadership, the regime in North Korea, to begin to think about ‘this can’t go on forever,'” he was quoted as saying.
The meeting could be a “vehicle through which they would like to tell us that they would like to have some discussions”, Tillerson added.
“It could be meaningful, it could be important. It could be a meeting about the Olympics and nothing else happens.”

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JANUARY 5, 2018
Kuttner on TAP
If a liberal strategist or screenwriter had scripted the Bannon-Trump crack-up, it would be hard to improve on events now unfolding. Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury, is only a more detailed version of what the world knows all too well. Donald Trump is an undisciplined mess, unfit to govern. His cabinet knows all too well what a total idiot he is, and says so.
As for Bannon’s comments, don’t forget that he made these remarks to Wolff several months ago, since it takes that long for a book to gestate. The comments are totally in character with Bannon’s own narcissism and recklessness. He made the same kind of casually devastating assessment of Trump in his August conversation with me, which turned out to be the last straw that led to his dismissal from the White House.
A few weeks after he was fired, Bannon took my phone call and met with me at the Breitbart townhouse. There, he told me that he and Trump continued to talk regularly. Apparently, even after Bannon was too radioactive to work at the White House, Trump still felt he needed Bannon.
This latest spate of published remarks, however, led to a final breach with Trump and a display of presidential impotent rage. Trump, preposterously, tried to get a court to block publication of the book. Presumably, Trump has never heard of the Pentagon Papers. Courts never back prior restraint of publications, and this issue becomes totally moot in the internet age, when the text could simply be posted and go viral.
Even more pathetic is Trump’s effort to go after Bannon on the premise that Bannon is bound by a non-disclosure agreement more characteristic of the entertainment industry than of politics. Trump has probably never read a political memoir either.
Bannon and his home base, Breitbart, have been uncharacteristically quiet since this latest blow-up. But it will help further fragment the Trump coalition.
Bannon, a hero to the right-wing populist base, is basically telling Trump voters that they have been played for suckers; that Trump is in bed with the billionaires, and not delivering for regular people. In this respect he helps progressives get that message out. The Tea Party diehards will be torn between their support for Trump and their affinity for Bannon.
Meanwhile, the GOP mainstream in Congress will be even more worried that Trump is not only a lunatic, but a flagrant, obvious lunatic. Financial backers of Bannon are already jumping ship.
In a petulant rage, Trump abruptly shut down the Pence-Kobach commission on voter fraud, a Bannon idea. Vice President Pence, despite his fawning loyalty to Trump, was collateral damage.
Support in Republican ranks is likely to grow for getting rid of Trump before the November elections. This will come to a head when Robert Mueller tenders his report. At that point, GOP leaders could well warn Trump that the time has come for him either to resign or to face the risk of a bipartisan impeachment inquiry.
Steve Bannon turns out to be the gift that keeps on giving. People ask what his game is. Based on my experience, his game is the greater glory of Steve Bannon, the ideology of racializing economic grievances, and total war on the establishment press and what’s left of the Republican establishment. If Donald Trump is a useful instrument to Bannon, then Bannon will use him, ridiculing him while professing loyalty. When even Trump sees through the game, Bannon jettisons Trump and moves on.
Both men are crackpots, whom history has thrust into positions of alarming influence. Let us hope they continue to do each other in. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

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I recently posted a column which led with a quote from DR. Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784. This quote is: “Patriotism is the refuge of a scoundrel“. When I read this the image of the current administration and more notably Steve Bannon whose extreme views propelled TOTUS to the White House while we all watched in a mix of elation, awe, disbelief and wonder. This year 2017 has shown that this Residency is an aberration much like a boil that has to be lanced at some point to prevent further infection. In my opinion Steve Bannon pulled off a coup but the “chosen one” has not fulfilled his part primarily because he is not always the star. This failing of the Legislature, his cabinet and most of America’s citizens to adore him is tantamount to a slap in the face and he has slapped back with under thought actions that could hurt us even up to and including an unwanted or needed war of destruction. His cabinet choices have shown that he is looking for an entourage rather than people who can further and protect the interests of the United States. The upshot of this Residency can end in several ways, none of them good for us. If impeached and removed from office, VP Pence could be promoted, equivalent to a pet rock, if Pence is removed we will have Rep. Paul Ryan who can hardly string 2 thoughts together without trying to take money from the oft cited American people. What we as voters have to do, is replace as many mid-term candidates as we can with more moderate people who WE have vetted through our own research and investigation. It is well to remember that sound bites, slogans and buzzwords are no more than attention grabbers with no substance. This year’s end will be celebrated in the usual manner with parties and gaiety but with a dim view of 2018. The way to lift the veil of a dimmer 2018 is to begin to research potential candidates for office, new and incumbent to improve our Government and by extension improve us all.

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With the beginning of a new calendar year most people are seeking some sort of renewal. Where we need to start is with ourselves. We have been so caught up in the Presidential idiosyncrasies that we have lost sight of what we as voters need to be looking at. Our Congress is the biggest failure we have right now. Their lack of desire it seems to work for us instead of against us is reason enough to vote for someone else when that time comes. There is no better reason to reject the incumbents than their pushing of a poor tax bill just to show they have accomplished something. The worst part of this is that several signers of this poor legislation now have regrets. Having regrets after the fact shows the weakness of those legislators and provide a reason to vote them out of office. We must remember that these are the same people who ridiculed the ACA and labeled it Obamacare as a slur. This is the same Medical care that 90%   of Americans enjoy in one form or another. These 535 seat fillers have failed us in so many ways including not doing their jobs for the past 10 years and then using the current White House Resident as a tool to get their agenda done. This is the time to start looking at any one seeking office with a critical but honest eye so that we can begin elect people who really want to serve.

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The Resident has made his New Years speech and there was very little substance beyond what we have seen so far or including his agenda. It appears to me that signing his name in lack felt tips and tweeting are his strong points. There has or possibly will be no more substantial work done beyond executive orders to undo whatever he can no matter what the outcome is. It is the job of the President to do what is best for the country and that includes the population (all of us). The cabinet choices appear to be a group of backslappers who have no real abilities that will benefit the country but make up the Resident’s “Amen chorus”. The recent release of excerpts from a new “tell all” book By Michael Wolff has pitted TOTUS against his one time associate Steve Bannon. The Resident has again reacted by pointing his barbs at Bannon with statements as to his mental stability (pot calling the kettle?). It is curious that the Resident’s method of dealing with issues is to attack in the child like fashion that has become his signature from the beginning.  For a country (US) that was up until 2017 was considered a world leader we have become a joke in some areas and  non player in others. Our ability to protect our selves and assist allies is severely compromised by the tweetstorm method of governing.  It appears to me that governing is about the Country and it’s people not about 1 person who happens be the Titular head. Essentially: ” Dude, it’s not about you!” At the rate we are going I am wondering “When will we see the gurney with a towel covered head leaving the White house by a secret or rear door”.

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Shalise Manza Young,

Shutdown Corner 14 hours ago

What will the New England Patriots do if they lose defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel’s?

Matt Patricia is a burly guy with a bushy beard, his hat turned backward and a preference for wearing shorts instead of pants. In all temperatures.
Well, except really, really frigid ones.
The 43-year-old is currently the New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator, but this year he’s also again one of the names mentioned most frequently as a head-coaching candidate for one of the several teams looking for a new one.
The Detroit Lions, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals have all formally requested interviews with Patricia, who is wrapping up his sixth season as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator. But he’s far less known than his offensive counterpart in New England, Josh McDaniels.
So, who is Matt Patricia?

New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is a hot head coaching candidate, but who is he? (AP)
Beloved by his players, who call him “Matty P,” Patricia has one of the more unique backstories in the NFL coaching ranks: He did play college football, as an offensive lineman at Division III Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, but his degree is in aeronautical engineering. He is, literally, a rocket scientist.
And when he first graduated, Patricia followed that path: He worked as an application engineer at Hoffman Air & Filtration Systems, then in East Syracuse, New York, about 40 minutes west of where he grew up, in the tiny city of Sherrill, New York.
He even wore a shirt and tie.
But the cubicle life wasn’t for Patricia. He wanted to coach football. He wanted to be the man his players looked up to, like the coaches he’d played for. So he left his reasonably well-paying job behind and took a job coaching the defensive line at Amherst College in Massachusetts for $10,000.
After two years, he was back near his hometown, as a graduate assistant at Syracuse University. Patricia was there for three years when he applied to work for the Patriots in 2004, as the lowest-level coach on the Bill Belichick totem pole.
Belichick grilled him, as he does all of his prospective assistants, and Patricia couldn’t believe how intense the interview was. But he was offered the job.
Already used to long hours of studying as an aeronautical engineering student, he returned to that life again with the Patriots – and really, he hasn’t left it. Patricia cops to getting four hours of sleep “on a good night,” but often gets even less than that. There’s always work to be done, he reasons, more to do to make sure players are ready for the next game.
His No. 2 pencil nearly always tucked behind his right ear for easy access, Patricia is easily recognizable on the Patriots sideline by his bright red team pullover. He chose the color so his players can quickly identify him if he’s sending in signals.
It was easy at first to overlook Patricia as coordinator; Belichick made his bones as the Giants’ defensive coordinator in the 1980s, and his opponent-specific approach makes game-planning a little tougher than it might be for other teams.
But now it’s Patricia’s unit, and under his tutelage, New England has finished no lower than 10th in points allowed. This year, it was fifth, a major turnaround after some early season struggles. Last year it was first.
Patricia isn’t big on appearance, but to some NFL observers, one wardrobe choice may actually hinder his chances of getting hired, despite all of the interest teams have.
When the Patriots returned to Boston from Houston after winning Super Bowl LI last February, cameras stationed at Logan Airport caught Patricia wearing a T-shirt depicting commissioner Roger Goodell with a big red clown nose. Fans, of course, loved it; after a legal fight, Tom Brady had missed the first four games of the season, suspended for his alleged part in deflate-gate. In spite of that, however, the Patriots had endured and advanced, and after the team’s incredible comeback against the Falcons, Goodell had to hand the Super Bowl MVP trophy to Brady.
If Goodell is still angry about the shirt, could he step in and dissuade a team from hiring Patricia? It would be quite petty to do so, and by and large the Patriots’ rank-and-file downplayed their anger at Goodell for deflate-gate, which they viewed as a witch hunt. And if Goodell did say something, would a team still say, “too bad, we think he’s the best guy for us”?
Football isn’t really rocket science, despite how some portray it. But if you’re one who views it that way, Patricia is the guy for the job.


Marcus Bensasson

5 hours ago

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary ,Jacob J. Lew said the Trump administration’s decision to add a significant amount of debt through last year’s tax legislation is leaving the country broke.
“It’s a ticking time bomb in terms of the debt,” Lew said in a Bloomberg Radio interview with Tom Keene and Jonathan Ferro. “You cannot run a fiscal policy by spending trillions of dollars you don’t have at a time that the economy is doing well.”
Having chosen to make tax policy without including Democrats in any of the conversation, now the administration probably can’t rally Republicans in Congress to do the basic business of government, such as making sure the country doesn’t default on debt and children don’t get thrown off health insurance, he said.
More from Bloomberg.com: Trump Calls for Change in ‘Failing’ Iran as Protests Turn Fatal
“The next shoe to drop is going to be an attack on the most vulnerable in our society,” Lew said. “How are we going to pay for the deficit caused by the tax cut? We are going to see proposals to cut health insurance for poor people, to take basic food support away from poor people, to attack Medicare and Social Security. One could not have made up a more cynical strategy.”
“What we’ve seen is a tax cut that spends money we don’t have to have very concentrated benefits for global corporations and the top 1 percent, and it’s leaving us broke,” according to Lew.

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CBS News
A leading climate scientist is responding to President Trump’s tweet that seemed to mock the idea of man-made climate change amid frigid temperatures in most of the eastern United States. Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist and Columbia University professor, says the president’s remark suggested an “often debunked” misstatement about what climate change really means for the planet.
Sobel joined CBSN on Friday to discuss the president’s tweet, which said that areas expecting “the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record” perhaps “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”

“The tweet seemed to imply that the cold weather in the Eastern United States somehow contradicts the notion that the climate is warming — or warming due to human influence — which of course is not true. This is a very tired and often debunked assertion,” Sobel said.
Sobel explained that winter will not cease to exist and that cold weather can still happen despite global warming.
“If you look at the temperature map for the climate as a whole right now, the entire rest of the planet is warmer than the historical average with the exception of the Eastern United States and Canada, and the last three years — 2014, 2015 and 2016 — have been consecutively the warmest years on record,” Sobel said.
He added, “So the notion that ‘there’s cold weather happening somewhere so global warming is not happening’ is well understood by people who take the issue seriously to be false.”
Sobel said the most important thing people can do to combat climate change is to vote.
“I think that’s the number one most important thing, because we can all take individual actions to reduce our carbon footprint, and we all should, but the problem is too big for individual action,” he said.
“It’s going to be solved by collective action at the government, national and international, level. The United States has the capacity to lead this issue; we were for a little while. Now this administration has made the problem worse rather than helping.”

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I came across this column by way of a crossword puzzle clue and pursued it to the originator of the quote.MA

By Steve Nelson

“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” – Samuel Johnson, 1775
Heated debate has arisen throughout the nation as a result of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest. Athletes and others are kneeling, sitting or, in at least one case, lying on the ground as the anthem plays. This protest has become intertwined with the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly since the latest among the endless string of questionable police shootings of black boys and men.

Our national anthem ends, “ . . . for the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Who are the “free?” Who are the “brave?” Who are the real patriots?
The United States of America was forged out of a deep longing for freedom and the bravery of colonists who sought liberty from the oppression of England. In 1775, just the year before the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts formed a government that proclaimed, perhaps for the first time, “God save the people,” rather than “God save the King.” The revolutionary movement’s refusal to mindlessly recite the mantra of authority of Great Britain was an essential part of the establishment of the United States of America.
The Declaration of Independence, adopted a year later, stated in part:
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

For black Americans, the ensuing years have been anything but “free.” From slavery, through Jim Crow and enforced segregation, through unequal education, through mass incarceration and the New Jim Crow, the promises of the United States of America have been diluted and withheld.
As with the colonists in the 1760’s and 1770’s, the American “Form of Government” has become “destructive of these ends” for women, children and men of color. And so, as true patriots did in 1775, folks of color and their supporters are refusing to sing, pledge or otherwise declare fealty to the nation that has failed to “effect their Safety and Happiness.”
It is deeply ironic that the nation is divided in this way. The modern day loyalists, who have appropriated symbols of the original independence movement, are deeply angered by the refusal of black folks to honor the anthem or to pledge their unconditional allegiance to the government. The Trump campaign and its racist figurehead are most violently outraged by the resistance. Those symbols – the flag, the Star Spangled Banner, the Pledge of Allegiance, the ubiquitous “God Bless America” – once the anthems of freedom, are now the rallying cries of the oppressor. They are the contemporary iteration of “God Save the King.”
I don’t suggest that a revolution is imminent or justified. The difference between 1776 and 2016 is that the prescience of the founders of our democratic republic provided us with mechanisms for reinvention, recalibration and reconsideration.
Patriotism does not inhabit the lyrics of the bombastic anthem, the unconstitutional Pledge of Allegiance or the trite and seductive melody of God Bless America. Patriotism is not demonstrated by waving a flag.
Patriotism inhabits the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Patriotism is demonstrated by the bravery of men, women and children who love the country enough to demand that it fulfill its overdue promises.
Colin Kaepernick and the millions of Americans who kneel in protest or march in solidarity with those who want Black Lives to matter are the real patriots.
Trump and his “patriotic” supporters are scoundrels, no better that the overbearing Loyalists whom we rejected 240 years ago. This time, as Pogo eloquently stated, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Follow Steve Nelson on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/snelson0248

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No backsies Marco, You had an opportunity to voice your opinion and vote no. It is clear that you are no better than YOUR Resident, DJT.MA

Talking Points Memo
Allegra Kirkland
18 hrs

17 in ’17: The political moments you already forgot

© Provided by NewsCred

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said Friday that he believes the recently passed GOP tax bill did too much to help the bottom line of America’s largest corporations.
“I thought we probably went too far on [helping] corporations,” the Florida Republican told the Fort Myers-based News-Press.
“By and large, you’re going to see a lot of these multinationals buy back shares to drive up the price,” Rubio continued. “Some of them will be forced, because they’re sitting on historic levels of cash, to pay out dividends to shareholders. That isn’t going to create dramatic economic growth.”

The bill passed by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last week slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. It also includes a number of provisions that benefit the country’s wealthiest residents rather than the middle-class Americans the GOP has insisted will benefit from the plan, including a cut to the top income tax rate and for pass-through businesses.
The bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
Rubio told the News-Press he was unconcerned about polls showing that most Americans disapprove of the legislation, saying the media has unfairly influenced peoples’ opinions and that ultimate perception of the bill will be based on “what their paycheck is telling them.”

This article was written by Allegra Kirkland from Talking Points Memo and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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