A Second Trump-Kim Summit Is Good, But I'm Skeptical

A Second Trump-Kim Summit Is Good, But I'm Skeptical

The North Korean leader will meet with President Trump in Vietnam on February 27 and 28.


I didn't watch the State of the Union address. Despite all the hullabaloo that had been made over it while President Trump and Speaker Pelosi were caught in the government shutdown standoff, I completely forgot that it was even happening.

The only reason I even remembered? I caught the tail end of it on TV while running on a treadmill at the gym.

Now, shame on me and my poor current affairs skills, but despite it all, I didn't actually take the time to watch Trump's speech as it was happening. I did watch the Kansas-K-State basketball game though (congrats Wildcats) and got a truncated version of the speech from my roommate later.

Included in that review was the knowledge that President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un will be meeting in three weeks' time in Vietnam.

I was blindsided by that. Their previous summit, held in Singapore on June 12, 2018, had originally been proposed by the North Koreans during and right around the time of the 2018 Winter Olympics, which were held in PyeongChang, South Korea in February of that year. Comparatively, the declaration for this summit, scheduled for February 27th and 28th, has had no similar lead-up.

As of my writing this, the Trump administration has just 21 days to pull things together.

Now, of course, the fact that knowledge of the Vietnam summit (which will be held in either Hanoi or Da Nang) was not public until the State of the Union address does not mean there wasn't already groundwork being laid for the event. In fact, I'd be very much doubt if there hasn't already been some sort of dialogue over where, when, and how to hold this upcoming summit. And yet, it still seems curious to me that there had been no mention of it before now, especially given the issues the Republicans faced in the 2018 midterms.

After all, up to this point, the talks with North Korea have been primarily about optics. One would be hard-pressed to argue otherwise. If Trump had advanced knowledge of such a continued conversation, why not unleash it during the midterms as an example of successful Republican foreign policy?

That is unless you don't see the Trump-Kim summits as a successful foreign policy, which in many ways I don't. Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, one of the most militarized regions in the world, is a goal most all of us want, and when news first broke about the Trump-Kim summit of last year, I was encouraged.

Now? Still encouraged, but also skeptical.

While saying no to diplomatic dialogue is often a foolhardy action, being railroaded and manipulated in said dialogues by foreign counterparts is almost worse.

While Trump has declared major foreign policy wins in regard to both Russia and North Korea and (supposedly) improved diplomatic relations with each, neither has taken definitive action that would seem to truly satisfy American interest. When President Trump met with Vladimir Putin, also last year, their joint press conference was widely seen as American capitulation, especially as Putin continued to deny that Russia was responsible for running interference in the 2016 election. Likewise, despite the cessation of nuclear testing on the Korean Peninsula, Kim Jong-Un has taken few, if any, steps to complete denuclearization of his rogue nation. If anything, the process has become only more convoluted, with some figures in the area of international affairs warning that the North Korean regime will merely move and conceal its nuclear weapons from international inspectors, rather than comply with any substantive agreement with the United States.

Ultimately, such lack of progress after the first summit some eight months ago leaves me dubious that this time around things will be different. If Kim wasn't willing to make a significant change last June, what would be different now that could convince him to change course? If anything, the Republicans' loss of the House of Representatives in 2018 likely signals to the rest of the world that Trump and his ideologies do not have nearly the same kind of stranglehold on American life as do true authoritarians like Putin and Kim.

And yet, with that being said, I'd hate to entirely snuff out hope. After all, Kim has agreed to talk again and, if anything, the prologue to these talks seems to be going much smoother than the last time around, when a variety of factors almost led to the summit being canceled.

This second summit should be met with optimism, albeit a cautious kind.

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.


I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?


This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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