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War and Tweets

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Late last night, President Trump tweeted a claim that his nuclear button is bigger than that of Kim Jong-un. His tweet was clearly in response to what he was watching on Fox News, which had just run a story about the North Korean dictator’s claim that his nuclear button is always on his desk. Trump’s response is more than immature hyperbole – it is a deeply dangerous taunt that could raise tensions and the chances of miscalculation with North Korea.

This comes just days after Kim Jong-un reached out to South Korea to potentially begin a dialogue. While Kim Jong-un might be trying to divide Seoul from D.C. to weaken the U.S.-South Korea alliance, Trump’s tweets are playing right into Kim’s hands by further straining relations between the U.S. and South Korea. There will be no effective solution to the threat from North Korea without a strong U.S.-South Korea alliance, and Trump needs to get on the same page with our South Korean allies and begin a robust diplomatic effort to reduce the threat.

According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress, a more responsible approach to addressing North Korea involves aggressive diplomacy through establishing open lines of communication, confidence building measures involving incentives, and prioritizing risk reduction. All of these would be much more responsible approaches to dealing with North Korea than the current method of escalating a tweet war with a foreign dictator. And diplomacy is still our best option. Trump should stop undermining his own Secretary of State, who at least realizes that diplomacy is necessary in this situation. Hopefully this information makes it to the President’s desk.

ACTION OF THE DAY

#DreamActNow. Since the Trump Administration ended DACA in September 2017, over 14,000 young people have lost crucial protections. Since then, 122 Dreamers have lost their legal protection every day. Watch and share this new video series called “American DREAMing.” Then, call key members of Congress today using DreamActToolkit.org and demand a vote on the Dream Act by January 19th. Remember: Another delay by Congress is another vote to fund deportations.

WHAT’S TRENDING

A Dwindling NSA. Reports from The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune have revealed that the NSA is having trouble retaining some of its key talent due to morale issues, low pay, and troubled reorganization. According to the reports, while these positions are being filled, it is often by unqualified candidates as opposed to the top talent they’ve been losing. Many of these individuals have gone on to take jobs in the private sector. This is part of the larger trend under the Trump Administration of skilled government employees leaving to pursue alternative employment, which will leave government agencies crippled for decades to come.

Not About the Dossier. Despite earlier claims that the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign to help Donald Trump was sparked by the Steele dossier, we learned from The New York Times over the holiday that the FBI launched an investigation into the Trump campaign’s connection to Russia in July 2016 because of conversations that Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos had with Russian contacts. This was at least a month before the Steele Dossier was first delivered to the FBI in August of 2016. In fact, this wasn’t even the first the U.S. intelligence community had heard about the Trump team’s contacts with Russia, which had been going on for months. This story just shows the extent to which Congressional GOP leaders and the White House are willing to deny the fact that there was any collusion with Russia and to discredit Mueller’s investigation.

UNDER THE RADAR

Environmental Racism. In November, the National Medical Association’s Clean Air Task Force and the NAACP co-released a report entitled “Fumes Across the Fence-Line: The Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Oil & Gas Facilities on African American Communities.” The report found that the oil and gas industry contributes 9 million tons of methane and toxic pollutants to the air every year. These pollutants are linked to an increase in asthma and cancer, particularly among communities of color and poor communities. These groups are more likely to reside in close proximity to polluters such as factories and refineries, partly because polluters face much less resistance from residents when deciding to build in these areas. This is why we see increases in asthma and cancer rates in cities such as Memphis, Baltimore, and Detroit, all of which have large minority populations. The study makes several recommendations, including preventing facilities from being located in residential areas and ensuring proper maintenance. These would go a long way in reducing environmental racism, which endangers the lives of millions of Americans.