North Korea talks are back on again


North Korea and the United States are playing nice again, a primary election has some surprises, and more in this week’s politics roundup.

North Korea talks are back on again

Next week, the United States president will travel to North Korea. There, he is expected to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It will all be in an attempt to reach agreements on the North’s nuclear programs. Likely, its tense relationships with the U.S., South Korea, and the rest of the world will be prominent topics as well.

This whole matter has been subject to roller coaster-like ups and downs, diplomatically speaking. Last week, it appeared that the U.S.-North Korea summit was off entirely. That was after Kim Jong-un and his government ramped up aggressive language against the country’s “enemies”. However, it’s hard to tell just what is going to happen in any diplomatic situation. For instance, consider the more-than-average volatility of the administrations and personalities involved. Therefore, only a matter of days after we all thought that there would be no more talks, the reverse was announced.

Now, the U.S. and North Korea will play nice. That’s probably to the presumed relief of leaders like South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. North Korea even destroyed another one of its missile test sites in a show of goodwill ahead of the talks.

That doesn’t mean they won’t deal with roadblocks, however. Currently, the U.S. President has told reporters that “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude”. Whether or not you’re a fan of the attitude emanating from the White House, you would probably want to hope that the President has a dossier or even a quick briefing ahead of him.

G7 summit holds uncomfortable tensions

But while the United States is attempting to behave itself when it comes to North Korea, all bets are off at the G7 summit. The upcoming meeting of seven ostensible allies in Charlevoix, Quebec will hold serious tensions for the nations involved. That’s thanks largely to a recent set of spats amongst the United States, Canada, and France. And those spats themselves are largely the result of trade wars and those 25 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum. While there will be meetings between those countries’ leaders, expectations are low. In fact, this new antagonism between previously mellow allies could point to a major shift in international relations.

Primary elections hold important lessons

Many have been making a big deal out of a “blue wave” of Democratic candidates ready to win office in the 2018 midterm elections. While history is on the side of such a prediction — generally speaking, a sitting president’s party suffers during mid-term elections — Tuesday’s primary elections provided a more complex picture.

In California, Democratic lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom gained one of two open spots on the state’s ballot. Republican John Cox earned the other nomination. While California remains a decidedly blue state dominated by Democratic candidates, Cox’s nomination remains a significant step forward for Republicans in that state. Currently, Republican politicians in California are battling to maintain seven right-leaning congressional spots, which could prove to be vital in either maintaining or losing a House majority for their party.

That said, these elections also provided some hope for those leaning to the left of the political spectrum. More liberal and progressive Californians cheered at the nomination of Newsom, especially given the state’s “top-two” primary system, wherein only the two most-favored candidates can find a place in the general election.

More fissures appear in Republican front

Politics, in nearly any setting, is a strange beast. That’s so often understood and assumed that to acknowledge the matter is something of a cliche. But, it bears repeating.

At any rate, political settings are full of people who have gotten themselves twisted up into so many rhetorical and ideological knots that even they may not know where they started. In any given matter, do they know — or care — whether or not their actual methods and goals align with those of their constituents?

Even within their own party, however, Republicans seem to be facing unusual amounts of dissent and confusion. Quite a few members of the party disagree with the White House on matters like the burgeoning trade wars with China and other countries

On Wednesday, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan added to the growing disjuncture. He joined other lawmakers in dismissing presidential claims pointing to spying. Specifically, the president claimed that the Department of Justice had worked a federal spy into his 2016 presidential campaign. Ryan even went on to say that the president really shouldn’t try to pardon himself. It was a surprising turnaround, given Ryan’s earlier support of the White House.

And, finally, your palate cleanser

A NASA rover has discovered organic molecules on the planet Mars. It’s not as if the rover, named Curiosity, has made contact with intelligent beings. Nor has it started a cultural exchange or even a game of interplanetary tic-tac-toe. But, don’t downplay this event. It may indicate far greater discoveries to come.

These complex organic molecules discovered on Mars are “consistent with the past presence of biology,” according to NASA astrobiologist Ken Williford. That means that even stronger proof of biological activity and beings may lay somewhere else on the planet. As scientists study Mars, they are learning that the planet is more complex than previously imagined. For instance, its methane levels (methane is another kind of organic molecule associated with living creatures) vary from season to season.

Next: U.S. trade wars cause drama in Europe and China

It’s important to point out that complex organic molecules like methane can be created through non-biological means. However, this is still an important step. Even if scientists discover that Mars was once full of unicellular lilfeforms only, that would still be a staggering discovery. After all, it would confirm that life once existed on another planet in our own solar system.