Beyond the Bricks: Week of 4/27


<a>Korean Leaders Promise Peace, Denuclearization

In a historic meeting Thursday morning, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un met to discuss peace on the Korean peninsula. It was the first time leaders of the two countries had met in 10 years. The meeting occurred in the village of Panmunjon, in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two halves of the peninsula. Although the day was carefully planned by the South Koreans, there were a few unexpected moments. 

Kim first crossed the demarcation line into South Korea, but then invited Moon back over into the North. This was unscripted, but met with gasps and cheers from the gathered crowd. Later, the two leaders talked alone for 30 minutes, with no one taking notes or recording the conversation.

Kim and Moon signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula, which promised peace talks and denuclearization. Any formal peace agreement will have to be agreed upon by the United States and China, as they took part in the original conflict in 1950. Both sides agreed to an armistice in 1953, but the peninsula technically remains at war. The actual process of denuclearization and what that means to each country could also be a potential pitfall.

Trump's Nominee for Department of Veteran's Affairs Withdraws

Ronny L. Jackson has been the White House physician for 12 years, serving three presidents. He was thrust into the spotlight when Donald Trump named him nominee for secretary of the Department of Veteran's Affairs. Concerns arose when 23 former and current employees of Jackson contacted the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to report misconduct. These allegations include being drunk while on-duty, wrecking a government vehicle while drunk, handing out medication with no patient history, writing prescriptions for himself and contributing to a hostile work environment.

Even before these issues were brought up, there was bipartisan concern about Jackson's ability to lead the second largest government agency in the nation. Although Jackson is a one-star admiral in the Navy with years of experience managing White House medical staff, some were concerned that he did not have the experience to handle the 360,000 employees of the department.

Jackson and the Trump administration have repeatedly denied these allegations, accusing bitter colleagues of making up rumors. However, as was previously mentioned, there were 23 sources that came forward to the Senate and multiple news agencies independently verified some of the claims. Jackson withdrew from consideration after the media storm.

Bill Cosby Found Guilty of Aggravated Indecent Assault

Three and a half years after the media picked up on allegations of Bill Cosby using date rape drugs on women, Cosby has been found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby's first trial a year ago ended in a mistrial with a deadlocked jury.

Andrea Constand testified that she had visited Cosby's home in 2004 for career advice, and he had drugged and sexually assaulted her. There was little forensic evidence, as the event took place over 14 years ago. Five other women testified that Cosby had done similar things to them, as prosecutors attempted to prove that this event was part of a pattern of sexual assaults.

Since the #MeToo movement began last fall, this is the first major celebrity sexual assault trial. Many hope that this is a good omen that justice will be served against people who have abused their positions of power and fame.

Cosby and his lawyers maintain his innocence, claiming the sexual encounter was consensual.