Pentagon suspends August drills with S. Korean military

By Lolita C. Baldor | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Monday formally suspended a major military exercise planned for August with South Korea, a much-anticipated move stemming from President Donald Trump’s nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Dana White, spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said planning for the summer drills has stopped, but there have been no decisions made on any other military exercises with South Korea. Military exercises with other countries in the Pacific will continue.

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Speaking at a news conference last Tuesday after his summit with Kim, Trump abruptly announced that he was suspending military exercises with the South, “unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.” He added that dumping the drills will save the U.S. “a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it’s very provocative.”

His announcement appeared to catch U.S. defense officials by surprise, and his comments ran counter to long-held American arguments that the exercises are critical for effective operations with allies and are defensive in nature. The Pentagon has for years flatly denied North Korean assertions that the exercises are “provocative.”

But as the days went by, the U.S. and Seoul began discussions about temporarily suspending the large Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises that usually take place in August and possibly other joint drills while nuclear diplomacy with North Korea continues. Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Friday that Defense Minister Song Young-moo held “deep” discussions about the drills with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in a telephone conversation Thursday evening.

Trump’s decision to suspend the exercises, coupled with the vague joint statement issued after his summit with Kim, have reinforced fears in South …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


30 years after warning of global warming: They were right


SALIDA, Colo. (AP) — We were warned.

On June 23, 1988, a sultry day in Washington, James Hansen told Congress and the world that global warming wasn’t approaching — it had already arrived. The testimony of the top NASA scientist, said Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley, was “the opening salvo of the age of climate change.”

Thirty years later, it’s clear that Hansen and other doomsayers were right. But the change has been so sweeping that it is easy to lose sight of effects large and small — some obvious, others less conspicuous.

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Earth is noticeably hotter, the weather stormier and more extreme. Polar regions have lost billions of tons of ice; sea levels have been raised by trillions of gallons of water. Far more wildfires rage.

Over 30 years — the time period climate scientists often use in their studies in order to minimize natural weather variations — the world’s annual temperature has warmed nearly 1 degree (0.54 degrees Celsius), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And the temperature in the United States has gone up even more — nearly 1.6 degrees.

“The biggest change over the last 30 years, which is most of my life, is that we’re no longer thinking just about the future,” said Kathie Dello, a climate scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “Climate change is here, it’s now and it’s hitting us hard from all sides.”

Warming hasn’t been just global, it’s been all too local. According to an Associated Press statistical analysis of 30 years of weather, ice, fire, ocean, biological and other data, every single one of the 344 climate divisions …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


The ‘catastrophic’ effect of separating kids, parents

By William Wan | Washington Post

This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from their parents.

Their heart rate goes up. Their body releases a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones can start killing off dendrites – the little branches in brain cells that transmit messages. In time, the stress can start killing off neurons and – especially in young children – wreaking dramatic and long-term damage, both psychologically and to the physical structure of the brain.

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“The effect is catastrophic,” said Charles Nelson, pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School. “There’s so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this.”

That research on child-parent separation is driving pediatricians, psychologists and other health experts to vehemently oppose the Trump administration’s new border crossing policy, which has separated nearly 2,000 immigrant children from their parents in recent weeks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association have all issued statements against it – representing more than 250,000 doctors in the United States. Nearly 7,700 mental-health professionals and 142 organizations have also signed a petition urging President Donald Trump to end the policy.

“To pretend that separated children do not grow up with the shrapnel of this traumatic experience embedded in their minds is to disregard everything we know about child development, the brain, and trauma,” the petition reads.

Nelson has studied the neurological damage from child-parent separation – work that he said has often reduced him to tears.

In 2000, the Romanian government invited Nelson and a team of researchers into its state orphanages to advise them on …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Why white evangelicals aren’t protesting family separations

By Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer | The Washington Post

At pulpits across the country this weekend, pastors, priests, rabbis and imams gave impassioned sermons, fiercely denouncing the morality of the U.S. government separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

But one major faith community’s response is more muted, and more conflicted: white evangelical Christians.

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Pastor Brent Gentzel, for instance, finds the images of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border “wretched.” His church in a Dallas exurb has poured resources in the last decade into caring for the rapidly growing slice of the congregation who are undocumented, a mission important enough to First Baptist Church Kaufman that each spring Gentzel and a group of local pastors travel with young congregants to Germany to volunteer with young Syrian refugees.

Yet there will be no full-throated condemnation of the Trump administration’s immigration policy from Gentzel, who voted for the president, as did the vast majority of his congregants. For conservative Christians such as Gentzel, the brutal headlines of children torn from hysterical parents are weighed against other concerns, chief among them the religious liberty of social conservatives on issues of traditional marriage and abortion.

“There are years worth of pent-up frustration that this issue doesn’t get dealt with. The hope that someone might finally establish that we’ll be a nation of laws again is super appealing, even if the mouthpiece is nobody’s favorite,” he said about the Trump administration. “When someone raises a hand to say: ‘We need to fix the legal side,’ there’s a side that screams: ‘You’re racist.’ And you’re sitting up there in Connecticut, and no offense, but you don’t have a clue.”

His use of the word …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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