What is North Korea’s motivation?


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SHOULD TRUMP GET PEACE PRIZE FOR NORTH KOREAN TALKS?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, Sky News is reporting that the president of South Korea, President Moon, has said President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. “What we need is only peace,” Mr. Moon told a room of senior secretaries, according to an official who briefed the media.

Harry, we are now wondering what is the motivating factor behind North Korean president, Kim Jong Un, who now says he is all in favor of a denuclearized North and South Korea?

WHAT IS NORTH KOREA’S REAL MOTIVATION?

DR. REEDER: On the one hand, you find this movement by the deified dictator, a supreme ruler of North Korea, moving toward what seems to be a very generous desire for denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula of both North and South Korea without even demanding that United States Troops be taken off of the peninsula.

Is this an attempt to tweak the nose of China, saying, “Look, I can build a much more beneficial relationship with South Korea, and Japan and America and rescue my country economically”? And let’s face it, in North Korea, the people are literally starving.

Is it a shot across the bow to China or, as some have mentioned, none of this started until Kim Jong Un went to China and had these talks and, when he comes back, all of this begins to unfold? Yet, what he is offering is clearly not the line that China has always demanded and that is the removal of United States troops.

IN DECADES PAST, NORTH KOREA WAS HOTBED FOR CHRISTIAN REVIVAL

Tom, let me give you a little bit of a backstory. If you go over to Korea, there are over 19 seminaries with thousands of Koreans in the seminaries. And I’m particularly aware of them and I’m speaking of 19 theological seminaries that are committed to Presbyterian and reform theology and an evangelical approach to the Word of God and faithfulness to Christ.

I happen to be aware of them because, at one time, every single one of the presidents of these seminaries had been educated at my theological alma mater, Westminster Seminary, which has had a profound influence.

Well, all of that came out of great revivals in Korea. What people don’t know is the great revivals which preceded the Korean conflict took place in what today is called Northern Korea. The capital of Northern Korea, Pyongyang, was a hotbed of the revival.

Well, when the Communist revolution came and targeted Christianity, they all fled south and so many South Koreans actually have a North Korean root and these South Korean Christians who dearly love the Lord and who dearly love their homeland which is North Korea, if that door opens up and they flood back in, there’s going to be, again, quite a bit of either tension or accommodation in terms of religious freedom.

And that is actually one of the conversations that is actually taking place now — about the return of these Christians back to North Korea where their ancestral homes and families were and where the revival actually broke out that swept Korea so powerfully in the 20th century.

IS THIS A POLITICAL MOVE SIMILAR TO REAGAN AND GORBACHEV?

There are all kinds of factors that are happening here. The question that, when you’re looking at it in terms of statecraft, is this the wily move of this dictator cozying up to South Korea and, by doing that, making accommodations to the United States and to Japan because, economically, that’s going to be a much greater favor to him than it is to continue in the relationship with China which is making demands of him but is not able to really supply the kind of economic firepower that they need to get that country back on its feet?

However, in a sense, Tom, this is a Gorbachev moment. In the days of the presidency of Ronald Reagan when his policies forced the Soviet Union into a military buildup and to an economic competition that they could not stand and, as it began to unravel economically, then the political opportunities opened up and Gorbachev then opened the door for conversations with the United States, which ended up with the proverbial, “Tear the wall down,” and the wall got torn down.

And the Soviet Union, was we knew it when I was a kid, dissipated into a series of various countries as all of these countries that had been conquered and brought into what was called the Soviet Union now gravitated out to their own autonomous rule and then what was left in place was “Mother Russia” or, as we know it today, Russia. And, of course, we see the president/dictator of Russia, Putin, trying to again reestablish the Soviet Union empire with his aggressive movements to surrounding nations.

Back then, the economic unraveling opened the door and then came the famous talks whereby there was the denuclearization, there were the arms limitations that were placed in which the Gorbachev and Reagan negotiators came to an agreement that instituted a peace and an open door, politically, economically and culturally.

CAN THIS MIRROR HOW CHRISTIANITY SPREAD THROUGH RUSSIA?

And, by the way, I remember in those days an open door spiritually because a number of us were part of various organizations that flooded Russia with evangelicals who would bring the Gospel and also a Biblical world and life view into Russia. It was so vast, this movement, that Russia even had a kickback on it because it was almost overwhelming.

And you can’t help but wonder, is that this moment now with the economic unraveling of North Korea? Is a door opening up politically and, therefore, culturally and therefore now the open door to send the Gospel into North Korea may be around the corner just as it was back in the Gorbachev days and the opening up and tearing down of the wall and the “Iron Curtain.”

If it does happen, will we be in a position, as the church of our Lord, to take advantage of it? There are a number of seminaries that are positioning themselves to be supportive of any training of pastors and sending of pastors into North Korea, which many anticipate may be around the corner.

TRUMP’S STRATEGY SEEMS TO BE WORKING … FOR NOW

Now what does this mean for President Trump? Well, clearly, his approach to this has been, in terms of statecraft, very unorthodox. When you had the calling of these derogatory names, we can unleash fire and fury upon North Korea as they were testing all these rockets but, at the same time, President Trump had sent Mike Pompeo on a backchannel mission that seems to have borne fruit and be directly related to these recent talks between the leadership of North and South Korea and the profound statements of unreserved commitment to denuclearize the entire peninsula, yet leaving American troops there at least for the initial time while this process takes place.

And would that lead to the reunification of North and South Korea? All of that seems to be up in the air and these are exciting times to see what happens. It may open up significant doors for the work of the Gospel moving back into North Korea where it once flourished and overflowed into South Korea. Now it may reverse the flow back into North Korea and great missionary opportunities may be just around the corner.

IT’S TIME TO GET THE GOSPEL BACK INTO NORTH KOREA

I’ll end up with this: from a Christian world and life view, I am praying diligently that these talks move ahead, the arms control will be established, the denuclearization of the entire peninsula will take place, conversations that may even lead to reunification but, most of all, the removal of borders and policies that have prevented Christianity from going into North Korea except for those willing to be martyred.

We have this wonderful missions pastor, Brian Wintersteen, doing a great job of leading us and building on the wonderful foundation of our legendary missions pastor, Tom Cheely, and many times he and I sat in Asia when we were there to do preaching and he would say, “Harry, I am praying that God would let me get the Gospel into North Korea in my lifetime.”

Tom, it looks like you were prophetic but you had the timing wrong. You went to be with the Lord, but I almost have to believe that, somehow, in the presence of the Lord, he is still interceding.

Lord, let’s get the Gospel to North Korea, into what once was an unbelievably dark area. They have satellite pictures — there is all kinds of lights in the south but, in North Korea, it is pitch black. What a metaphor. May we send the light of the Gospel into the darkness.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

38 mins ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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‘School choice’ also means ‘tax choice’ in Alabama

It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

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Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There are $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3: Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4: When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations may call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Watch:

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.