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Historic North Korea Summit explainer and backstory


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

HISTORIC AMERICA/NORTH KOREA SUMMIT — HOW DID IT MEASURE UP?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, June 12th is a day that many of us will remember for a long time. No doubt, it could go down as a very significant day in the relations between the United States and the people of South Korea and the people of North Korea. That, of course, is the date of the Singapore summit. Let’s just take a look at that today now that the dust has settled.  

DR. REEDER: There’s a backstory to this that I want to get to that I think is really important.

FIRST AGREEMENT: TO ESTABLISH PEACE

TOM LAMPRECHT: There are four very broad bullet points that both Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump signed. The first bullet point says: “The United States and North Korea commit to establish new U.S.-North Korea relations in accordance with the desire of the people of the two countries for peace and prosperity.”

DR. REEDER: Whenever you hear that, you are reminded immediately, from a Christian world and life view, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We have said many times that war is never a foreign policy instrument; war is the failure of foreign policy. While foreign policy can never be peace at any cost, there needs to be a peace and people being willing to pay a cost.

To have peace not simply between the North Korean nation and the United States, to have that as an objective, is certainly desirable but even more so, if you’ve lived in South Korea, you would desperately want peace as well.

That raises the specter of the distinct possibility of the greatest desire of many of the South Koreans that I know and that great desire is a reunification of the Koreans. They look at it this way: if the wall can come down in East Germany and West Germany and they can be reunited, then cannot the line of demarcation, the 38th parallel, eventually be erased and there be a reunification of the Koreans?

Of course, something has got to happen in North Korea, which deifies its dictator and he has unfettered authority and control, which never can be a part of the reunification, but they see this as a possible step. And I was actually with a large number of South Koreans and those who, at one time, were in North Korea that were refugees and are now pastors in the Presbyterian Church in America. I was with a large number of them while all of this was going on and their hopefulness is unbounded.

They said, “You have no idea our tears when we saw Kim Jong Un shaking hands with our president and what that could possibly lead to.” And those who, of course, I was with, they are distinctly praying for that. In fact, one president of a seminary who is Korean, when I was talking with him, the tears were welling up in his eyes at the thought of the possibility.

SECOND AGREEMENT: LASTING PEACE (AND POSSIBLE REUNIFICATION?)

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, the second bullet point is very similar to the first, although it talks about the lasting and stable peace. “The United States and North Korea join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula.” This might be a good time to bring up the fact that there was something missing from this agreement and that was the human rights issue in North Korea.

DR. REEDER: The backstory that everyone is saying, of course, is that it is on the table and it is being talked about. There will be no progress, ultimately, to this treaty without the affirmation of human rights — that is what is being promised — but I find it troublesome that it was not on the front burner and not stated upfront and even the highlighting of those who we know right now — American, Japanese and South Koreans — that are in these horrendous situations, imprisoned and tortured.

Particularly, of course, we are fully aware of the large number of Christians in North Korea that have come under this torture. I am actually making a personal plea and initiative to our present administration that this not simply be assumed that it’s going to be worked on, but that it be made a front piece issue in the conversations.

THIRD AGREEMENT: DENUCLEARIZATION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Bullet point three reaffirming the April 27th, 2018 declaration: “The North Koreans commit to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

DR. REEDER: Now we’re back to something positive. No longer is it nuclear control and no longer is a nuclear simple treaty over freezing the number of nuclear weapons. Most discussions in the past have simply been around, “You can’t do testing. You can’t make advances,” and simply retarding the nuclear program of North Korea.

This treaty has put on the table, front and center, the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula. There still remains some definition to that, but that is a pretty clear statement that I find extremely encouraging, which is why it was important to declare the United States commitment to the security of the Korean peninsula if, in fact, our treaty would insist on their removing nuclear weapons.

And immediately comes to mind President Reagan’s language that any such commitment has to have not simply a trust factor, but a verification factor. That was something that is, in a meaningful way, missing in the Iran treaty. What you will look to is trust, confirm and verify of the commitment to denuclearize.

FOURTH AGREEMENT: RETURNING OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS’ REMAINS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Point four apparently was added during the discussions between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump: “The United States and North Korea commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

DR. REEDER: That would include those who have died having been imprisoned during the Korean conflict. I think that was an important addition that needs to be able to bring a focus to their grieving process and some closure to it. That was an important issue.

THIS IS A GREAT POINT WHERE CHRISTIANITY CAN RETURN

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I guess the big question many people are asking is what is different this time?

DR. REEDER: Part of the reason they got to the table was, in some form or fashion, the present administration was able to get the Chinese to bring some pressure to bear upon Korea and, therefore, the hollowing out of their economy.

They are at a very precarious position in their economy where things just cannot continue. They’re fully aware of that and now, hopefully, China will maintain that pressure, very much the way the pressure of the economy brought the Iron Curtain down and the East German economy and the Russian economy just came to a hollowing out and they could not exist and, therefore, an unheard-of openness to relationships was established with the “Communist Bloc” under the Reagan presidency. In whatever form or fashion, in this moment, the same thing seems to be happening in North Korea.

GOD HAS ACTED IN NORTH KOREA BEFORE; HOPING HE WILL AGAIN

I am praying that, through all of this, an open door for missionary work is going to be established, some way, somehow. I remember our missions pastor who has now gone to be with the Lord, Tom Cheely, he and I used to pray directly that we could see the Gospel go to North Korea unfettered and I believe that is the greatest hope for the reunification.

Tom, why is it that there are so many Christians in Korea? What many people do not know is that Pyongyang was the epicenter of a revival in the late 19th and early 20th century in Korea. It was led by evangelical Presbyterians and, right there, in Pyongyang, was the place where the epicenter was. In fact, the very first seminary is on a hill right there in that capital city. It has been taken over by the communist government and actually made a museum of communism, but the building is still there and I am praying that again, one day, there is going to be an evangelical reformed Presbyterian seminary again — if not, then I’m more than happy for it to be an evangelical Baptist seminary — but I am praying for that to happen.

One of the reasons there are so many Christians in South Korea is how many fled from North Korea at the conclusion of the Korean conflict and went to South Korea. The actual epicenter of the Korean revival and awakening in the 20th century was not in South Korea but it was in North Korea and the Korean war pushed them south because of the persecution that was brought to them.

They are all praying that they will be able to go back north, they have family there, they have churches that are still there and they want that Gospel door to open up again. When you hear that name, Pyongyang, remember that was the epicenter of a Gospel movement. Pray that it will again happen.

And the symbol for me, Dr. Joel Kim, the president of Westminster Seminary, shared in such a powerful way in a talk that I heard him give, is that seminary on that hill one day will no longer be claimed for use to display Communist history, but will be liberated and again the teaching of the word of God and the training of Gospel ministers will again take place and that’s my great hope right now in Korea.

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.

9 hours ago

Geneva County Commission strips funding for school resource officer program

The Geneva County Commission has placed the Geneva County School system in a bind after it pulled funds committed to the school resource officer (SRO) program.

Per a Dothan Eagle report, the county commission voted in June to give $15,000 to the SRO program this year, including an additional $60,000 next year.

After commissioners found that the budget would not balance, they realized that the promised funding for the SRO program could not be provided.

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Fred Hamic, chairman of the Geneva County Commission, sent a letter informing Superintendent Becky Birdsong of the decision and included a $15,000 check.

Birdsong said she was “disappointed,” but assured she will work hard to ensure the SRO program remains in place.

“I am disappointed, but I am still committed to doing what’s right for our students,” Birdsong told Dothan Eagle. “We don’t want parents to be concerned that this is going to make our schools less safe. I’m not saying we have the money now, but I am going to work on this and try to secure funding for this.”

Birdsong said that she is working with parents to increase security on school campuses in the schools she oversees.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

9 hours ago

Steve Marshall talks liberal tech bias, joins select group of national officials tackling the issue

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Tuesday joined a select group of state attorneys general for “a productive dialogue” led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Department of Justice (DOJ) officials regarding perceived discrimination against conservatives by leading tech companies.

Per a DOJ release, “The discussion centered on ways the Department and state governments can most effectively safeguard consumers using online digital platforms. Each state attorney general’s office shared their views of the important issues for federal and state authorities to consider when addressing these evolving technologies. The discussion principally focused on consumer protection and data privacy issues, and the bipartisan group of attendees sought to identify areas of consensus.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Marshall – who joined the meeting by teleconference – made it clear that there was a long way to go before reaching a consensus on how to tackle the complicated issues of tech transparency and bias, saying, “To the degree that there was any consensus, it is that we still have a lot to learn about how to best protect consumer interests in this context.”

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“Today I participated in a bipartisan meeting of several state Attorneys General, hosted by Attorney General Sessions, to discuss consumer protection concerns related to the tech industry. The conversation covered many of the same concerns raised in recent Congressional hearings,” Marshall outlined.

He continued, “I appreciated the invitation to participate and was interested to hear the perspectives of the various states represented. To the degree that there was any consensus, it is that we still have a lot to learn about how to best protect consumer interests in this context.”

The DOJ, which was represented at the meeting by Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore and other senior staff, explained, “Many shared the view that it is essential for federal and state law enforcement authorities to work together to ensure that these challenges are addressed responsibly and effectively.”

Sessions’ DOJ will review the information and insights shared by the state attorneys general and expects the constructive dialogue will continue moving forward. Marshall, in an interview earlier Tuesday morning with Talk 99.5’s Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg, made it clear that he prefers a market-based solution as opposed to stifling government regulation.

“It is a field that I think we need to tread very lightly,” Marshall explained. “You look at the ability of government to regulate – I think we do the military well and everything else is a struggle. So I think we need to be very, very careful in how we tread in that regard.”

The argument from some is that social media platforms are like modern-day utilities.

“You hear it coming more from Democratic AG’s across the country … it’s why, I think, you have to be very careful, because the market itself has the ability to regulate and one of the things that we have to do from the government side is do not tread into the world of antitrust lightly,” Marshall outlined.

Alabama’s attorney general used Google as an example, saying consumers have multiple choices in search engines, free online email providers and the web browsers themselves (Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, etc.).

“It is important, however, when you do hear the stories of internally that Google may be directing people for political purposes that otherwise is not disclosed. That is concerning,” Marshall said.

For Marshall, the questions of whether these tech companies should allow their left-leaning biases to affect consumers “need to be asked, whether or not government needs to get involved in that, however, is a different story.”

Marshall summarized that his overall view is the tech services need to be held accountable to being open and honest with what they are doing and then the market can effectively take care of the rest. If consumers do not like what the services are doing, competition, not the government, should be the counterbalance.

“To the extent that there is transparency, I think it’s a good thing. Across the spectrum, whether it be private business or in government, and in this field particularly, if they are able to respond to questions about how it is that they control content and what they do, then I think we all have knowledge and then can make decisions ourselves,” he advised.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Strong like Samson, tough like Benaiah and wise like Solomon -Thomas Cox reveals his plan for himself and raising his kids

Finding the time to do everything in a day is tough, but Thomas Cox shared his secrets on “The Ford Faction.”

In this episode, Thomas Cox from Mealfit.co discussed where his parenting techniques come from and how he finds time to execute them. He breaks down the processes he does with each of his children.

First, he teaches them to be strong like Samson. He wants his kids to be strong in many ways: mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

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Second, Thomas wants his kids to be tough like Benaiah.

He said, “Toughness is one of the biggest parts of our lives we have to get better at so we can adapt to what’s happening around us.”

Finally, you have to be wise like Solomon.

Thomas told host Ford Brown, “I think if you’re not spending a lot of your day on self-development, you are missing the boat.”

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Rep. Byrne: Breaking down Tax Reform 2.0

Since Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year, the American economy is booming, and Alabama families have more money in their pockets. By lowering taxes and simplifying the tax code, we have unlocked our economic potential and made life better for hardworking Americans.

The economic numbers speak for themselves: higher wages, lower unemployment, more jobs, bigger paychecks, employee bonuses and much more. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the average family in Southwest Alabama will see their tax bill decrease by $2,187 a year.

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The good news is that we aren’t stopping here. This week, the House is expected to vote on additional changes and improvements to the tax code, something we are calling Tax Reform 2.0. Working with President Trump, we will continue to make the tax code even fairer and more competitive.

Tax Reform 2.0 includes three major pieces. Here’s a quick overview.

First, we want to make the tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families permanent. Due to Democrat obstruction and arcane rules in the Senate, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was only able to lower taxes for ten years. Under Tax Reform 2.0, we will make the tax cuts permanent.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation found that making the middle-class and small business tax cuts permanent will create 1.5 million new jobs and increase gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.2%. This further expands our economy and makes life even better for families and small businesses.

Making these changes permanent, will also lock-in the simpler tax filing process. As you may remember, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act simplified the tax code to the point where many Americans are now able to complete their taxes on a postcard-style form. A Tax Foundation study shows that this will save Americans between $3.1 to $5.4 billion in compliance costs. Instead of needing an accountant to navigate the complicated code, most Americans will be able to file on their own.

Second, Tax Reform 2.0 promotes family savings and helps more Americans plan for retirement. Currently, too many Americans have been unable to save for retirement or put money aside to cover unforeseen emergencies.

We want to help small businesses provide retirement plans to their workers by allowing small businesses to join together to create a 401(k) plan more affordable and by giving employers more time to put new retirement plans in place. Just as important, we will help more workers participate in retirement plans by exempting small retirement accounts from mandatory payouts and by eliminating the age limit on IRA contributions.

We don’t stop there. Tax Reform 2.0 will create and expand additional programs to help Americans save. For example, our plan creates a new savings account to offer a fully flexible savings tool that families can use at any time right for them, expands 529 education savings accounts, and creates a new baby savings program to help with the birth of a new child or an adoption.

Finally, Tax Reform 2.0 will help grow the economy by promoting start-up businesses and spurring innovation. We do this by allowing new businesses to write off more of their initial start-up costs and by making it easier for start-ups to bring in new investors. America must lead the way on innovation.

As you can tell, Tax Reform 2.0 builds upon our efforts in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to ensure the American economy remains strong. We do that by allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets. I fundamentally believe our country is the strongest when money is with the people instead of the government.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

10 hours ago

Ivey, Merrill celebrate National Voter Registration Day – ‘Easy to vote and hard to cheat’

Tuesday is recognized as National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), which Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill celebrated by encouraging all of the state’s eligible voters to register.

The annual occasion is the largest single-day drive to register voters of the year. Merrill joined hundreds of different partners around the nation to observe NVRD, with Merrill specifically encouraging a “voter refresh” effort to update state voter rolls with correct information about Alabama citizens.

“Since I became Secretary of State, we have registered more than a million new voters who have helped us shatter state records for voter registration and participation in our elections,” Merrill said in a release.

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“But we also want our voter rolls to be up-to-date, so we are urging everyone to take a moment to make sure their current address is correct in the state system. We are pleased to participate in this special day that encourages more participation in our electoral process. We continue to work daily to make sure every eligible U.S. citizen in our state is registered to vote and has a photo ID. We want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Merrill continued.

NVRD, held on every fourth Thursday of September since 2012, is endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors. Since 2012, more than 1.4 million people around the nation have registered to vote or update their registration as part of this event alone. This year, libraries, schools and other partners will hold local voter registration drives.

Since Merrill took office, Alabama has registered 1,064,616 new voters, bringing the state’s total to 3,418,839 as of September 7. Yellowhammer State residents can update their voter registration information by downloading the “Vote for Alabama” app on a smartphone or visiting the Secretary of State website here.

“There is no freedom more integral to this Republic than the right to vote and participate in our democratic process,” Merrill emphasized. “I am so proud we are able to work with the partners involved with National Voter Registration Day to help make increased participation a reality here in the state of Alabama.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn