Monthly Archives: April 2018

Korean War to be declared officially over after 68 years, following historic summit

inter-korea-summit-24.jpgLeaders Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in say neighbouring countries will turn fortified border into a ‘peace zone’

BY Jon SharmanAndrew GriffinDonald Kirk –

At a historic summit between leaders Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, the neighbouring countries agreed they would work towards peace on the peninsula with a formal end to the conflict set to be announced later this year.

The pair agreed to bring the two countries together and establish a “peace zone” on the contested border.

The war began in 1950 and most fighting came to an end with an armistice three years later. But peace was never officially declared and the two countries have been officially at war ever since.

At their first summit in more than a decade, the two sides announced they would seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace on the peninsula.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Joint Security Area (EPA)

“The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the official declaration said.

The statement included promises to pursue military arms reduction, cease “hostile acts,” turn their fortified border into a “peace zone,” and seek multilateral talks with other countries, such as the United States.

North Korean leader Mr Kim and South Korean President Moon announced after their summit on Friday that the Koreas would push for three-way talks including Washington or four-way talks that also include Beijing on converting the armistice into a peace treaty and establishing permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The Koreas said they hope the parties will be able to declare an official end to the war by the end of this year. Mr Moon is also expected to visit Pyongyang sometime this autumn, though it is not clear whether that event will include the official end of the war.

Responding to the summit, Donald Trump said he looked forward to his meeting with Mr Kim and expressed hope it would be productive.

But he added: “We will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations. Maximum pressure will continue until denuclearisation occurs.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-In and North Korean leader Kim Jong-U talk during their summit meeting at the Peace House (EPA)

And UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking at Nato headquarters, told reporters he was “very encouraged” by the summit, but added: “I don’t think that anybody looking at the history of North Korea’s plans to develop a nuclear weapon would want to be over-optimistic at this point.

“But it is clearly good news that the two leaders are meeting.”

China, North Korea’s sole major ally, also welcomed the meeting. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said it was a chance to expand into a “new journey of long-term peace and stability on the peninsula”.

The announcement came amid a friendly mood at the border.

Mr Kim joked during the summit that he would no longer interrupt his counterpart’s sleep with early morning missile tests.

As the pair shook hands on the southern side, Mr Moon asked Mr Kim: “You have crossed into the South, but when do I get to go across?”


Footage of the meeting showed his hesitant reaction as the North Korean leader replied: “Why don’t we go across now?”

Hand-in-hand they stepped briefly into North Korea before continuing southward shortly after 9.30am local time.

On the streets of Seoul, South Koreans watched in anticipation, some cheering, others weeping.

“This is unbelievable,” said Kim Ji-su, a teacher, watching breathlessly as Mr Moon escorted Mr Kim past rows of soldiers garbed in ancient Korean dynasty costume and standing at attention on either side of the red carpet leading to Peace House, where the two would be holding a summit that everyone seemed to agree was “historic.”

“I never thought I would see this in my life time,” Ms Kim gushed over the performance being enacted before her on all Korean television channels. “I can’t help crying.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hold hands as they cross the military demarcation line (EPA)

Lee Sung-bin, 17, saw one great benefit of North-South reconciliation.

”I hope peace comes soon,” he said. “Then I won’t have to join the army.”

However the two leaders were vague when it came to the details of “denuclearisation” – a problem for those who saw Mr Moon essentially falling for Mr Kim’s charm offensive.

“They didn’t get any agreement on anything,” said Maeng Ju-seok, a businessman.

“North Korea promises denuclearisation, but there’s nothing. The government gave up a lot for nothing in return.”


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Remember when Michael Cohen threatened a reporter? Jim Carrey definitely does.

Swapping out the hustle and bustle of Hollywood for a more quiet life of canvases and color swatches, Carrey’s been making all kinds of statements via his paint brush. But in recent months, the iconic actor has taken a liking to reimagining the figures we often see splashed across front pages and news chyrons: high-profile members of President Donald Trump’s orbit.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for AFI.

Now, a new caricature created by Carrey is making waves again.

The subject is Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. And the depiction … isn’t too flattering.

View image on Twitter

Jim Carrey


The painting includes words wrapped around the lawyer’s head you may have missed at first glance.

Ensnaring Cohen’s turquoise face is a quote from Trump’s personal lawyer: “I’m warning you, tread very lightly because what I’m going to do to you is gonna be fucking disgusting.”

The slightly edited-down quote was part of a larger threat Cohen made to The Daily Beast back in 2015, when Trump was the front-runner to be the GOP nominee for president. During an interview with Cohen, the media outlet brought up an allegation from the president’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, that the then-candidate had once raped her while they were married.

Cohen, rattled by the subject matter, basically blew up. Here is the quote Carrey incorporated into his painting in full context (emphasis added):

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?

You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up … for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet … you’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it.”


Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

While Carrey hasn’t specified why he chose that particular quote, Cohen’s attack on the free press is especially telling in lieu of recent news.

The home, hotel room, and offices of Trump’s self-proclaimed “fix-it guy” were raided by the FBI earlier this month, casting doubt on Cohen’s innocence in shielding the president from ongoing investigations into his business dealings and alleged extra-marital affairs.

Just days after the raid, with the eyes of the country on his every move, Cohen dropped libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS for their roles in publishing the so-called Steele dossier, which connected Trump to Moscow through various unconfirmed claims.

It appears Cohen’s bark is worse than his bite when it comes to his disdain for the free press.

Cohen’s not the only one in Trump’s world who’s taken a hit from Carrey’s paintbrush.

In March, the actor shared a painting of an angry, open-mouthed press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Jim Carrey


This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!

Some slammed the caricature as sexist. But others defended Carrey’s work, as the style of the painting fell in line with the actor’s other works, and unflattering depictions of powerful people have often been used as a tool for political commentary — regardless of the subject’s gender.

Between the time Huckabee Sanders’ portrait went viral and his latest recreation of Cohen, Carrey painted several other Trump allies as well.

Like Scott Pruitt, the president’s embattled EPA chief.

Jim Carrey


I looked on Trivago. The cheapest room in Washington is a youth hostel with bunkbeds at $81 a night. The $50 room Scott Pruitt got was a bribe from an energy lobbyist. Need your pipeline approved? Do it through Pruitt!

And Trump’s new controversial and very hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton.

Jim Carrey


“Bombing Syria should interrupt the news cycle for a day or two, Mr. President. Moscow has agreed to act like they’re upset. We’ll call it: OPERATION DESERT STORMY DANIELS.”

Even Fox News host — and, incredibly, client of Cohen’s — Sean Hannity got a shout-out from Carrey.

Jim Carrey


Sean Manatee: some endangered species aren’t worth saving! ;^P

Carrey’s creations are brash, unapologetic, and as candid as they come. They may not be your cup of artistry tea — regardless of where you lie on the political spectrum — and that’s OK.

But the actor’s commentary on Cohen’s threats to the free press are critical to keep in mind for every Republican, Democrat, and independent alike. After all, it was George W. Bush who once said media is “indispensable to democracy.”

“We need the media to hold people like me to account,” the former president told NBC News last year — breaking with Trump’s movebarring several news organizations from White House press briefings.

A free press is American as apple pie. And if it takes a Canadian actor to remind us of that, so be it.

Share image: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for AFI; Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

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San Francisco’s Spiritual Bastion Gets Behind Its Beyoncé Mass

Beyoncé‘s headlining performance at Coachella, one year after it was originally scheduled. Force and determination were evident throughout the two-hour concert. Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Good morning.
Beyoncé‘s headlining performance at Coachella, one year after it was originally scheduled. Force and determination were evident throughout the two-hour concert.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images
It wasn’t a platinum record, a Coachella performance or perhaps even a higher power that got San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral to plan its Beyoncé Mass this week: It was a second year divinity student originally from Ankeny, Iowa.
Meet Sam Lundquist, who says his passion is to “open up the church — with a capital ‘C’ — to find new ways of connecting with people.” Mr. Lundquist, 33, had taken part in a Beyoncé Mass in February, and was attending the Rev. Yolanda Norton’s class “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible.” At the same time he was an intern for the Rev. Jude Harmon, the director of Grace Cathedral’s Innovative Ministries who also hosts the cathedral’s weekly community night. Mr. Lundquist was, in the words of his mentors, “the hinge.”
“This isn’t about bringing pop music into the church,” Mr. Lundquist said. “It’s about giving people a new lens for Christianity, and showing them that it’s not about a bunch of old stories in an old book.”
Others disagreed. Detractors called it a publicity stunt, some mocked a singalong atmosphere and some outlets even implied that it was simply Beyoncé worship. None of that sat well with Ms. Norton, a biblical scholar at San Francisco Theological Seminary.
“There’s been pushback. There has been a misunderstanding about what we’re doing and even from people in the church,” she said. “But this is about bringing people together, not pulling them apart.”
Ms. Norton, 35, who will preside over the mass on Wednesday, explained what to expect. “This is a worship service,” she said. “There will be a sermon, we’ll be reading scripture, there will be communion. And we are very clear: All are welcome.”
And why Beyoncé? In Ms. Norton’s words: “She’s a unique embodiment of black women’s struggles.”
Ms. Norton is undecided about the final Beyoncé playlist, but she pointed out one track as personal and poignant.
“We use ‘Flaws and All,’” a song maybe she wrote for her fans or for Jay-Z,” she said. “But if you listen to the words in an ecclesiastical context, it’s a very faithful, honest raw acknowledgment of the imperfect relationship we have with God.”
The Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young, the dean of Grace Cathedral, said the event is about listening — and not just to the music.
“Young peoples’ voices are not heard in churches, women of color are not heard in churches and gay people are really not heard,” he said by phone on Sunday. “This is a chance to learn what’s going on with them.”
Mr. Young pointed to Grace Catherdral’s progressive attitude, going back to the 1930s. It has been at the forefront of San Francisco’s HIV/AIDS crisis and homelessness.
“There are a lot of issues politically and culturally that we have taken risks for,” he said. “This is one of those moments.”
California Online
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
• In Ventura, the random stabbing death of Anthony Mele Jr. by a homeless man has led to anger over how the police and the city are handling its homeless problem. [CBS Los Angeles]
• Gov. Jerry Brown has led the nation’s fight against global warming, but he steps down next year. Here’s where his would-be successors stand on climate issues. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
• A Marine Corps veteran who was deported to Mexico was laid to rest in the San Joaquin Valley city of Reedley with military honors. [The Associated Press]
A warning for this? Coffee at a cafe in Los Angeles.
Richard Vogel/Associated Press
• If a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has his way, California businesses will have to put warnings on coffee for a chemical called acrylamide. We looked at why coffee producers are boiling mad. [The New York Times]
• California’s job safety watchdog said that it was investigating a recent injury at Tesla’s factory in Fremont that left a worker hospitalized with a broken jaw. [The New York Times]
• California charged five people with defrauding the state’s recycling program out of more than $80 million — the largest alleged fraud scheme in the program’s history — by accepting recyclables purchased in other states and faking the paperwork. [The Associated Press]
• The hottest home in the country? An 1885 Victorian mansion in Woodland is selling for $3.85 million. Some Bay Area residents are saying it’s a steal. [The Sacramento Bee]
Verne Troyer, left, as Mini-Me and Mike Myers as Dr. Evil in the 1999 comedy “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”
New Line Cinema
• Verne Troyer, a who played Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies, died at 49. [The New York Times]
• Junot Díaz’s drew roars of applause at the final day of the 23rd annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. “When fools talk about diversity,” he said, “they can’t even imagine L.A.” [Los Angeles Times]
• Two days after the Warriors said that its point guard Stephen Curry would miss another week with a sprained left MCL, the head coach Steve Kerr was blunt: “Steph’s not going to play anytime soon.” [SFGate]
Earth Day was Sunday. We looked back at some of the 1970s-era environmental disasters that led to new protections but are now under threat. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
Shala Marshall has taught for 17 years, has a master’s degree and has been a finalist for Oklahoma teacher of the year. Her adjusted gross income is $28,000, she said, and “I can’t support a family on that.”
Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times
Working for a state or local government — as a teacher, firefighter, bus driver or nurse, for instance — used to provide a relatively comfortable living. Now, many government workers take second jobs to make ends meet.
With the U.S. population having grown, public sector employees now account for the smallest share of the civilian work force since 1967.
Some say a diminished public sector is vital to economic growth. Others say it’s a threat to health and safety. Regardless, it has led to a decline in middle-class job opportunities.
“We always made it work,” said a former health department worker. “But if you’re going to choose to be a public servant, you have to have in mind that you will live in a small home and drive a sometimes unreliable vehicle.”
California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see:
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.



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Walking out to protest gun violence? Robert De Niro just wrote a note to your principal.

On April 20, students from more than 2,500 schools nationwide will walk out of their classrooms to protest gun violence.

At 10 a.m. on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, students across the country will drop what they’re doing and leave their classrooms behind as part of the National School Walkout.

The walkout is continuing an important national conversation that has begun in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Teens are refusing to let the debate fade from public consciousness until gun laws change.

Students will participate in a variety of activities organized by the leaders of that school’s walkouts. While some may return to class —  several school districts have already issued statements saying that not doing so will result in disciplinary action — others will march on their local lawmakers’ offices, call on the government for widespread gun reform, and register people to vote.

Some will, in accordance with the wishes of the officials at Columbine, participate in a day of service.

The protests have received widespread support. But one actor went even further to stand in solidarity with America’s students.

Photo by Karim Sahid/AFP/Getty Images.

Robert De Niro, a vocal critic of the NRA and now ally to the #NeverAgain movement, has penned an absence note for anyone who’s planning to take part in the walkout.

Didn’t expect De Niro to be the one to get all those students out of class? He’s got compelling reasons.

The letter, shared by the National School Walkout’s official Twitteropens with an appeal to educators to understand that they and De Niro want “a safe nurturing environment for [student] education and growth.” Then, De Niro outlined all the reasons he’s asked educators to excuse his children in the past, making it clear how those reasons are relevant to the walkout.

“Gun violence is a devastating disease,” he wrote under the heading of “health.” De Niro goes on to make the case that the walkout is an example of good citizenship — “This is what good citizenship is all about” — and education.

“What an opportunity to teach these kids history by encouraging them to make history,” De Niro stated. “Let them learn about the American tradition of protest for change as they experience it.”

View image on Twitter

Would most principals accept this letter? No. But it’s an urgent reminder to stand with the students.

The walkout is important. There’s no argument about that.

But it’s not about just a call for change; it’s a demand that, as a country, we don’t become desensitized to gun violence. The walkout’s creator, high school sophomore Lane Murdock, lives just miles from Newtown, Connecticut, the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. She said the idea for the walkout came to her after she realized that her own reaction to the February 2018 shooting at Parkland wasn’t one of sadness or fear.

“I really felt quite numb to it. Our whole country is pretty desensitized to gun violence and once I realized I was, too, it really scared me,” she told USA Today. “I was no longer surprised that people were dying. That shouldn’t be the case.”


Survivors of gun violence call for change at the March for our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. in March 2018. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

De Niro’s note is a good start, but here’s hoping that parents and adults see it and decide to write notes of their own — or, even better, also sit down with their teens to discuss what the walkout means and the impact that young people can have in the world.

“Keeping up the momentum is important,” said Murdock. “We saw that low after March for Our Lives, but students aren’t quitting on this. Our generation is demanding change and won’t be ignored or swept under the rug.”

Share image: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Ima

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How Veteran Fighter Pilot Tammy Jo Shults Saved Crippled Southwest Flight 1380

Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger could rely on automated help to pull off the ‘Miracle on the Hudson,’ ex-fighter pilot Tammy Jo Shults saved hundreds of lives all on her own.

Just how masterfully Tammy Jo Shults, the pilot of the badly crippled Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, handled the problem of an engine exploding at 30,000 feet is winning admiration from thousands of her fellow pilots—and should finally help to temper the hubris of what has been a notoriously testosterone-charged profession.

Consider this: the Boeing 737’s left engine suffered a catastrophic failure when one of its fan blades—a part that looks like a pirate’s scimitar and is just as lethal when let loose—broke away, ripped through the engine casing that was supposed to contain it, and then, along with other pieces of shrapnel, tore into the skin of the airplane’s cabin.

Airplane cabins are like a pressure vessel. At 30,000 feet, where the jet was when the failure occurred, the pressure inside the cabin was far higher than in the outside air. The debris instantly punctured this pressure vessel, releasing an explosive rush of air. One cabin window was shattered and with the violent release of air, the woman seated at that window, Jennifer Rioardan, was partly sucked out, suffering injuries that were fatal.

Oxygen masks were automatically dropped to passengers to provide air that they could breathe—but inevitably this added to the visceral sense of impending catastrophe.

Simultaneously the crew put on their own oxygen masks. At this point Captain Shults and her copilot were carrying out a visual and audio assessment of the damage to the 737, simultaneously scanning all the instruments to note the condition of vital systems. Most alarmingly, they saw an alarm flashing, indicating that they had an engine fire. Fire of any kind is the last thing a pilot wants to see in a situation like this because if it gets out of control it can destroy an airplane in seconds.

The pilots’ first priority was to make a rapid descent to 10,000 feet where the difference between the outside air pressure and the cabin pressure begins to equalize. This greatly reduces the risk that other parts of the cabin structure will rupture because of the pressure stresses.

At the same time Captain Shults was talking to controllers to report her situation, and requesting an emergency landing at Philadelphia, as well as requesting medical help for passengers.

For any pilot in this situation the most difficult and urgent thing to judge is how responsive the airplane is to their commands. An airplane as crippled as this one becomes difficult to handle. With only one engine working and damage to the other causing unusual air drag, the pilot must correct for asymmetrical power and drag—the airplane naturally tends to swing away from its direct course.

Here it is striking to compare Captain Shults’ plight with that of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in his legendary “miracle on the Hudson” landing. Sullenberger lost both engines to a bird strike, but his airplane, the Airbus A320, had “fly-by-wire” controls that gave him an automatic safety margin by restricting the control movements to a computer-dictated “envelope.” In contrast, the flight controls of the Southwest 737, although monitored through computers, remain as they were in the analog age, with the pilot controlling directly through a “yoke.”

And this is where Captain Shults’ background came into play. She was an ex-Navy pilot and one of the first women to fly the “Top Gun” F-18 Hornet, eventually becoming an instructor. Landing supersonic jets on the decks of aircraft carriers is one of the most demanding skills in military aviation. Now, flying on the one engine called for her to use all of her “seat of the pants” instincts to nurse the jet to the runway.

“Landing supersonic jets on the decks of aircraft carriers is one of the most demanding skills in military aviation. Now, flying on the one engine called for her to use all of her ‘seat of the pants’ instincts to nurse the jet to the runway.”

Normally a 737 on final approach would deploy its wing flaps to their full extent, to reduce landing speed to around 140 mph. But Captain Shults’ skills and experience forewarned her that an airplane flying that slowly with its flaps fully extended and with asymmetrical power could become fatally unstable in the final stage of the landing, so she used a minimal flap setting to maintain a higher speed and stability—taking the risk that the landing gear and particularly the tires could survive a higher speed impact.

As the jet came into land the controllers in the Philadelphia tower, looking at it through binoculars, could see that there was an open gash in the side of the cabin. At the same time it was reported that a large piece of the left engine’s cowling had fallen to the ground 60 miles northwest of the airport.


Captain Shults faced another problem with the speed of the landing: she could not deploy the airplane’s engine thrust reversers to help brake the speed after touchdown because of the damage to her left engine. However the touchdown was perfect and, once slowed, the jet came to rest on a taxiway where a fire crew sprayed the damaged engine with foam and put out a small fire from leaking fuel.

The warning of an engine fire had been a false one, probably caused by damage to the alarm system’s wiring.

According to reports Shults was raised on a New Mexico ranch near Holloman Air Force base. “Some people grow up around aviation. I grew up under it” she told Linda Maloney, the author of the book Military Fly Moms by Linda Maloney.

When she announced in her senior year at high school that she wanted to be a pilot a retired colonel told her “there are no professional women pilots.” That was, apparently, a problem for her when she applied to train to be a pilot in the Air Force. They rejected her, but the Navy gave her the break—and, obviously, it was a very smart move, particularly for everyone aboard Flight 1380.


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Will Democrats Win the House? Ask Texas

CreditBen Wiseman

SAN ANTONIO — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s wish list of House seats to flip from red to blue includes slightly over 100 districts — remember, it’s a wish list — and is chockablock with the usual swing states.

Ohio makes six appearances; Pennsylvania, seven. Wisconsin is present and more promising than ever, with Paul Ryan’s soon-to-be-open spot squarely in Democrats’ sights.

But wait, what’s this? Texas once, Texas twice, Texas five times in all. It reads like a typo. It looks like a delusion. Predominantly Republican and perversely gerrymandered, the Lone Star State is where Democrats send their dreams to die. Only 11 of its 36 House seats are in the party’s hands.

But 2018 is shaping up as a year in which old rules are out the window and everything is up for grabs. Ryan’s planned retirement and the increasing disarray of the Republican Party illustrate that. So does Texas’ emergence as a credible wellspring of Democratic hope.


Leave aside the Senate contest and Beto O’Rourke’s surprisingly muscular (if nonetheless improbable) bid to topple Ted Cruz. Several of the most truly competitive House races in the country are in Texas, which could wind up providing Democrats three or more of the 24 flipped seats that they need for control of the chamber. The state tells the tale of the November midterms as well as anywhere else.

The appeal of youth, of first-timers, of women, of veterans and of candidates of color will be tested here. And a bevy of compelling characters have emerged from the primaries on March 6 and are poised to prevail in runoffs on May 22.

There’s Gina Ortiz Jones, for example. Jones, 37, is almost certain to be the Democrat challenging Representative Will Hurd in the 23rd District, which sprawls from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso. Despite its large numbers of rural voters, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the 23rd by more than three points. (Clinton lost the state by nine.)

Jones was an Air Force intelligence officer in Iraq. Like Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, she drew the support of the Serve America PAC, which promotes veterans as candidates on the theory that they can help Democrats forge a cultural connection with working-class voters in swing districts.

She’s Filipina-American. She’s also openly lesbian, and while Texas political analysts told me that they weren’t sure whether that would affect her bid, Jones has figured out precisely how to handle it: with brief acknowledgment and no special focus.

At a recent house party in San Antonio where she introduced herself to a few dozen of the district’s voters, she mentioned that she “served under ‘don’t ask don’t tell’” but didn’t spell out the significance of that.

She talked more about it during an interview with me the next day, comparing her time in the military with the anxiety and vulnerability of many minorities, particularly immigrants waiting to see what happens with the DACA program.

“I don’t know what it’s like to be a Dreamer,” she told me. “But I do know what it’s like to have worked hard for something and to live in fear that it can be ripped away from you. When I was in R.O.T.C. at Boston University, I lived in fear every single day that if they found out I was gay, I would lose my scholarship. My opportunity to get an education — my opportunity to serve my country — would be taken away.”

Democrats also have an excellent shot at victory in the 32nd District, a collection of Dallas neighborhoods and suburbs. Its Republican incumbent, Pete Sessions, has been in Congress for two decades, but the district has become more diverse and less white over those years, and his likely opponent, a black civil rights lawyer named Colin Allred, should benefit from that.

Allred is 34. Like Jones, he’s making his first run for office. Also like her, he has an unconventional professional biography. Before getting his law degree at the University of California, Berkeley, he played professional football for the Tennessee Titans, and before that he was a football star at Baylor University in Waco and at a high school in his Dallas district. Many of its voters remember watching him play.

And more of them voted for Clinton than for Trump in the presidential election, a sign of the district’s evolution and an outcome for which Democrats were so unprepared that not a single Democrat challenged Sessions in 2016. This time around, seven Democrats entered the race. Allred got 38.5 percent of the votes in the primary, more than twice that of the second-place finisher.

“We’ve seen a level of activism here that is off the charts,” he told me after a town hall in Dallas where he spoke with voters about the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and the need for gun-safety legislation. Sessions is a major recipient of donations from the National Rifle Association, and Allred, echoing the campaigns of Democrats across the country, is making an issue of that.

The mere existence of the runoffs that he, Jones and other Texas Democrats will compete in next month reflects Democrats’ hopes in Texas in 2018, because it means that there were three or more Democratic candidates in districts that had two, one or none in election cycles past.

“Democrats smell blood in the water,” Harold Cook, a former executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, told me, “and for the first time in maybe forever, there is a Democrat running in every single congressional district in Texas, including ones where it’s a ludicrous thought that a Democrat could conceivably win.” They’re that angry about Trump and that convinced that his turbulent presidency and failure to nudge his approval rating much above 40 percent could mean an enormous blue wave.

Democrats are even eyeing a few districts that Trump won, like the 21st and 31st. The 21st attracted the party’s attention largely because its Republican incumbent, Lamar Smith, isn’t seeking re-election. He decided to retire after more than three decades in the House.

And the 31st? Well, it’s hard not to indulge in some optimism when your party’s leading candidate is a female war hero whose story is possibly becoming a movie, “Shoot Like a Girl,” starring Angelina Jolie. That candidate, M. J. Hegar, 42, did several tours of duty in Afghanistan as a search-and-rescue pilot and won a Purple Heart after she was wounded while saving fellow passengers when the Taliban shot down her helicopter.

Richard Murray, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, told me to keep an eye as well on the 22nd District, a largely suburban swath of the Houston area that he described as a microcosm of demographic changes that are making the state ever more hospitable Democratic turf.

“The suburban counties that led Republicans to dominance here 25 years ago are getting significantly less Republican fast,” he said, adding that Fort Bend County, in the 22nd, is roughly 20 percent Asian-American now. The first-place finisher in the district’s Democratic primary, Sri Preston Kulkarni, is Indian-American. Murray said that if Kulkarni wins his runoff, that could be a significant boost to Democrats’ chances to nab this House seat.

Trump took the 22nd by almost 8 points. But Mitt Romney won it four years earlier by more than 25. And bear in mind that Lamb notched his Pennsylvania victory last month in a district that had gone for Trump by a margin of 19 points.

“When you look at what happened in Pennsylvania,” Allred told me, “you can’t take anything off the board.” Lamb’s triumph, and the Virginia returns last November, suggest a suburban revolt against Trump.

But who best understands how the winds are blowing — the national Democratic Party or local primary voters? And are those voters making smart general-election choices or romantic ones? I suspect they made the right calls with Allred and Jones, neither of whom was anointed by the party and both of whom faced primary opponents with more money and with powerful connections.

In Jones’s case that was Jay Hulings, a former federal prosecutor who went to law school at Harvard with the Texas political stars Joaquin and Julián Castro. He finished fourth in the five-candidate primary, with 15 percent of the vote. Jones’s 41 percent tally was more than twice that of her nearest competitor.

Allred’s better-financed and more conventionally pedigreed rival was Ed Meier, who has a master’s degree in Middle East studies from Oxford University and worked as a management consultant with McKinsey. He finished fourth among the seven primary candidates.

Following their hugely impressive primary performances, Jones and Allred landed on another, more refined list — “Red to Blue” — that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee puts together. It directs donors to House candidates in especially strong positions. It’s now 33 names long.

Meredith Kelly, the communications director for the D.C.C.C., told me that Jones’s and Allred’s newness to politics could prove hugely appealing. When the party did focus groups in Pennsylvania’s 18th District after Lamb’s victory, she said, “One of the biggest takeaways was that he was seen as a young, fresh face in contrast to Rick Saccone.” Saccone was 60 and had long served in the State Legislature. Lamb was 33 and had never held elected office.

Allred put it to me this way: “My youth is not a bug. It’s a feature.”

He and Jones are potentially formidable for additional reasons. There’s not a whiff of entitlement or the establishment about either of them. Both had single mothers of humble means. Both talk expansively and eloquently about government or community help that was crucial in their lives.

Both have deep roots in their districts, where they spent their childhoods. Both are great-looking, as it happens. (That rarely hurts.) And both acknowledge the shock of Nov. 8, 2016 — and the peril of what they’ve witnessed since — as factors that motivated them to run and could be central to whether they win or lose. Trump is large in their minds and in their races.

Before and immediately after the presidential election, Jones worked in the federal government as an economic and national security adviser. She hadn’t thought about a career as a lawmaker, she told me.

But Election Day changed everything. “I remember a sinking feeling in my stomach,” she said, “in no small part because a lot of us thought, ‘That will never happen.’ That was not an option, because then what does that mean?”

“About America?” I asked.

“That’s right,” she said.

She quit her bureaucratic job and became one of a record number of 309 women to file to run for House seats. There’s an unusual bounty of Democratic candidates of all kinds, and as Jones and Allred demonstrate, that’s not merely a numerical phenomenon. It has brought engaging new figures and impassioned new voices into the arena. On Nov. 6, in Texas and elsewhere, we’ll see how much that matters.


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President Trump, in a surprising reversal, asked his advisers to look into rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact


Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:54 PM EST

President Trump told a gathering of farm state lawmakers and governors on Thursday morning that he was directing his advisers to look into rejoining the multicountry trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the White House tries to come up with ways to protect the agriculture sector, which could be badly hurt by the president’s trade policies.

Rejoining the trade pact would be a surprising change in policy for Mr. Trump, who long criticized the deal and withdrew from it last January, in his first major trade action.

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Gov. Jerry Brown endorses Sen. Dianne Feinstein for reelection

“Zu alt um zu fallen, sie hat nur dort gefesselt!”

A snow covered T-Rex life size Dianasur sculpture is pictured at the Edmund  Brown Water-Heist  Museum in Donepezil

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday endorsed Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reelection bid.

“More than ever, we need Dianne Feinstein’s steady leadership in the U.S. Senate; she’s exactly the right person to ensure that Trump is held accountable. Dianne will continue to stand up for immigrants and fight to protect our healthcare and the environment,” Brown said in a statement.

The two San Francisco natives have developed a close relationship in the decades since Brown’s father, former Gov. Pat Brown, appointed Feinstein to the California Women’s Board of Terms and Parole. Feinstein officiated at Brown’s 2005 wedding and he has helped her raise cash in the past.

As she seeks her fifth full term, Feinstein’s opponents are trying to capitalize on progressive sentiment that Feinstein is too moderate and willing to compromise with Trump.


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SAMBO’S restaurant lives on, on the Central Oregon Coast…

… but apparantly the Tiger Won!

photo by Steve Ulrich 4.8.2018


You might imagine that chain restaurants would spend vast amounts of time and money researching potential names in order to pick one that would convey exactly the desired associations and nuances. Certainly one that would not insult a portion of its intended customers.

I’m sure most do. Sambo’s was not among them.

Wouldn’t the founders of Sambo’s, in the late 1950s, dimly perceive that the name Sambo was not beloved by everyone, especially African-Americans?

Why would they decorate with images from the book “Little Black Sambo,” the American editions of which were filled with racist caricatures?


Evidently they had no idea that Sambo had been – and still was – a derogatory word for black males for over 100 years; that the name and ridiculous images of Sambo were used on many consumer products in the early 20th century; and that after WWII school libraries had complied with requests by African-Americans to remove the book from shelves.

Even if they didn’t know any of this, when protests erupted they might have realized they had made a terrible mistake. Regardless of whether “Sam-bo” originated from the first name of one of them combined with the nickname of the other.

Nope, nope, nope, and double nope.

Instead the founders, their successor, and the corporation that finally took over the chain all insisted right up to the bitter end that no harm was intended or implied. Even as they renamed some units in the East where there had been boycotts, the company insisted the change was purely in order to market their new menus.

sambo's216CabrilloHwy1960The first Sambo’s was opened in Santa Barbara in 1957. [pictured] By 1977, when the son of one of the founders was heading the company, the chain was the country’s largest full-service restaurant chain, with 1,117 units.

But trouble was looming. Protests during the West Coast chain’s expansion into the Northeast had already resulted in renaming units in the Albany NY area “Jolly Tiger.” Eventually there were 13 Jolly Tigers in various towns. Protest would spread to Reston VA, New York, and New England including at least 9 towns in Massachusetts. In 1981 the Rhode Island Commission on Human Rights ordered the company to change its name in that state because indirectly the name violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act by denying public accommodations to black persons.

SambosNoPlaceLikeSam'sLogo1981The company responded that it would rename 18 of its Northeastern units “No Place Like Sam’s”; in fact according to an advertisement a few months later they actually renamed 41 units.

Soon thereafter the company began to collapse. In November 1981 it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, closing more than a third of its units. In Leominster and Stoughton MA, early morning customers had to pick up and get out immediately so the restaurants could be padlocked.

In 1982 all, or most, remaining Sambo’s were renamed Seasons. By 1984 most of the Seasons restaurants had been sold to Godfather’s Pizza and other buyers.

The successive name switches undoubtedly hurt business, but a more serious problem was that Sambo’s, like other chains using a coffee shop format with table service and extensive menus, had been steadily losing out to fast food chains.

The chain is kaput yet the beat goes on. The original Sambo’s in Santa Barbara continues in business under new ownership – still using the thoroughly discredited name. On its website it also continues the threadbare tradition of justifying the name as a compound of the founders’ names.


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Simple life hacks

  • Drink more water – finish the glass of room temperature water left on your nightstand, first thing when you wake up
  • Smile – it’s infectious.
  • Be first – jump into the conversation in the kitchen at lunch today, don’t hold back, say hi to the person walking by you in the hallway
  • Read less “news” – more longform
  • Finish a lot of little things – making your bed when you get out of it, put your dishes directly into the dishwasher, don’t wait for your weekly status meeting to get an immediate answer if it’s going to take a minute to walk and talk to a colleagues office
  • Remain present, in the task at hand and on the things that matter
  • Give yourself time to think
  • Write
  • Remain curious
  • Stop multi-tasking – do one thing.
  • Stand up straight
  • Move – walk around the building when you get up to use the restroom
  • Stretch – everyday, feel the muscles in your body
  • Empathize – care for others, because they are human
  • Remember and forget
  • Express yourself
  • Cry
  • Create
  • Talk
  • Build
  • Record
  • Find the joy

Focus, as we understand it is a difficult thing to quantify. You can however, put a number on your revenue, hours spent or saved on a project, and quality of work – have you ever graded yourself on a piece of work done, was it a C or a B+?

Most importantly, you cannot quantify the sense of accomplishment and genuine fulfillment in your life, when you are able to get back to basics, remove distractions and implement tactics and strategies into action that will change your day today.

Simplify your life and improve the quality of your work, quantity of work, and depth of concentration, thought and mission filled with meaning.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend!


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