Beyond the Bricks: Week of 2/25
by Abby Bratton | published Mar. 5th, 2019
U.S.-North Korea Nuclear Summit
U.S. President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28, 2019 to discuss nuclear disarmament. These talks fell through before an agreement was reached, The Associated Press reports.
On Jan. 31, 2019 U.S. State Department Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun stated that during preparation for the summit, Kim’s administration agreed to dismantle all facilities for plutonium and uranium-enrichment in exchange for unspecified actions by the U.S. However, the countries failed to reach an accord.
After the talks, the Trump administration said that North Korea appeared willing to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear facility in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, but this left the matter of existing weapons and suspected additional facilities unresolved. Trump maintains that North Korea would not accept anything less than a total removal of all sanctions on the country, which the U.S. was unwilling to provide.
According to BBC News, Kim's government denies this, claiming they only asked for partial relief of sanctions. Regardless, Trump left the summit in Hanoi, Vietnam without signing any agreements.
“No deal is better than a bad deal, and the president was right to walk,” said Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, as quoted by The New York Times.
Hazardous Flooding in Northern California
Areas of northern California experienced severe flooding in the last week of February of 2019, with one National Weather Service station reporting 20 inches of rain in 48 hours, according to The Associated Press.
In Sonoma County, the Russian River rose to 46 feet, which the Associated Press notes to be its highest level in over two decades. The towns of Guerneville and Monte Rio were only accessible by boat on Wednesday. Further north, in Ferndale, an unidentified man was killed after being swept away by floodwaters outside of his home.
Approximately 3,500 people were ordered to evacuate and 2,000 buildings flooded, some up to eight feet deep under water. Worries about sewage were raised with two wastewater treatment facilities not working due to the flood.
On Feb. 28, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for five counties due to storms; a week earlier, he had declared a state of emergency for 21 counties, also for weather-related reasons.
Cohen Testifies Before Congress
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, began testifying before Congress on Feb. 27, 2019 about his experiences working for Trump. He spoke with the Senate Intelligence Committee for three days in addition to providing public testimony to the House Oversight Committee, BBC News reports.
“[Trump] is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” Cohen said in his opening remarks.
Cohen went on to claim that Trump was aware of the planned WikiLeak release of hacked Democratic emails prior to the fact. He also said that Trump lied about negotiations to construct a Moscow Trump Tower and indirectly pressured Cohen into doing likewise. Cohen further alleged that Trump had committed tax fraud.
Cohen has previously been convicted of perjury and sentenced to three years in prison, set to begin in May. He was disbarred on Feb. 26, 2019 by the New York State Supreme Court. His credibility has been challenged, primarily by Republicans, but Cohen ended his opening statement with an acknowledgement of these challenges.
“I am not a perfect man," he stated. "I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life ... I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today.”