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Destler Dodge

Leaders of South Korea and Japan Meet in Effort to Mend Ties

On October 26, South Korean president Park Geun-Hye and Japan's Prime Minster Shinzo Abe met to repair their strained ties, which have persisted since Japan’s colonial rule of Korea.

The New York Times reported that the meeting started at Park’s presidential office, the first meeting in more than three years for these two countries. It lasted for an hour and a half before they came to and end with no breakthrough due to differences; issues remained untouched even though Mr. Abe agreed to find an early solution to the emotional issue of comfort women that drove a wedge in the relationship with South Korea and Japan during colonial times. Comfort women from Korea were sent to Japan during World War II for Japanese soldiers. Even though both presidents had different views, Park wanted Japan to “heal the painful history,” and Abe wanted Korea to “look to the future.”

This meeting has allowed them a chance to “save some face.” In the past, Park refused to meet Abe until now as Japan has yet to take responsibility for their troubled history with Korea. In the end, the meeting still left unresolved signs of hostility, leaving “the only significant achievement… [to be] the meeting itself.”

Thousands Start Life Anew with Early Prison Releases

More than 6,000 federal prisoners will be released earlier than expected as a result of an across-the-board adjustment of federal drug penalties by the US Sentencing Commission. Due to this, tens of thousand more inmates will receive reductions in their terms and new sentences will be shorter than previous.

“This shift reflects concerns about the severe overcrowding and expense of federal prisons,” mentions the New York Times.

The average sentence for penalties pertaining to “the war on drugs” went from 10.5 years to 8.5 years due to the belief that the harsh federal penalties were too extreme. There have been advocates to this reform as well as people against the reform too.

The president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums supports this reform as it corrects the excessive sentences for crimes like this in a slight way. Meanwhile, some argue that releasing the offenders early will increase crime rates. The release of these criminals will still have to deal with strict limits such as home confinements and supervision by a probation officer. Michael Keating is one of the thousand federal prisoners who is benefiting from the reduction in drug sentences, receiving seven months off his 11 year and three-month sentence.

GOP Presidential Campaigns Meet to Shake Up Primary Debate Process

According to ABC News, on Sunday, November 1, representatives for the Republican presidential candidates gathered to discuss working on reshaping their party’s primary debates. The summit was organized by Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon, who believed there was a need for change in format in how the debate is done. The meeting was organized due to last week’s debate hosted by CNBC, where the Republic National Committee as well as many of the candidates "drew sharp rebukes."

From the meeting, all the candidates agreed on the following things: Candidates must be allowed a minimum of 30 seconds for opening and closing statements, debate moderators will have to evenly ask the same amount of questions to all candidates and the debate host must agree to an on-screen graphic approval process for candidate biographical information. There were some concerns about candidates getting marginalized by some of the others with the large number of candidates in the main stage debates.

While Carson’s campaign wanted all of the candidates on the stage, Trump wanted to limit the people on the stage. After the meeting, Bary Bennett, Carson's Campaign Manager, mentioned he didn’t expect every issue to be resolved.

“This is just step one,” Bennett said.