United States and North Korea meet in summit


The meeting between North Korea and the United States goes decently well, while the U.S. cooks up drama over immigration in this week’s political roundup.

The U.S. – North Korea summit

After a considerable amount of doubt as to whether or not it would even happen, President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday, in Singapore. The day was filled with meetings, handshakes, and a rather odd promotional video advocating for friendship between the two nations.

However, after all that, the results of the summit are frustratingly vague. The U.S. did make a major concession, stating that there would be no further military drills involving the United States and South Korea. Both South Korean and U.S. officials were surprised by the announcement.

Otherwise, the two leaders issued a joint statement that spoke of “complete denuclearization” in the Korean Peninsula. Despite that bold proclamation, however, the statement did not include a timeline or substantive ways in which denuclearization would take place.

That said, the lessened tensions between North Korea and the U.S. have eased worries both in the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere. What will actually come of this summit — be it more meetings, increased international connections for North Korea, or the fabled denuclearization — is still unclear.

Further drama on immigration

The issue of illegal immigration is hardly a new subject in Congress and beyond. That said, this week brought newly sharp tales of families separated, politicians voting (maybe), and Attorney Generals who aren’t clearly making things better.

First, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has promised to hold a vote on immigration next week. The move, which came after a late night of negotiating for Ryan and associates, is happening in part to defuse tensions within his own party. Moderate Republicans have been fomenting a rebellion of sorts over their support of more friendly bills.

A number of Democratic and Republican representatives have wanted to push a DACA-like bill that would favor younger immigrants who did not necessarily choose to enter the United States illegally.

Instead, it now looks like the House will vote on two measures. One will almost certainly be a hard line bill backed by conservatives and the White House. The other, still reportedly being drafted, is predicted to be a more moderate bill. Will that measure be a reasonable compromise or a middle of the road measure that helps no one? We’ll (probably) see next week.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been addressing frankly brutal stories about immigrants in detention centers. Children and families, in particular, are apparently subject to forced separations and grim conditions.

Zero tolerance and its results

Recently, the Justice Department had announced a”zero tolerance” policy, wherein all adults entering the U.S. illegally are considered to be criminals. Children accompanying these adults are not labeled as such, however, and cannot legally stay with their adults. Previously, most illegal immigrants were sent to civil court, a set of circumstances which allowed families to stay together.

Over a two week period in May, this new policy led to over 650 being taken from their families. The new House bill, if approved into law, would end this practice of separation.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, has joined other religious leaders in denouncing the separations. “Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma,” he said in a statement.

What, then, was Sessions’ most recent response? He quoted the Bible. Sessions referred to Romans 13, where the Apostle Paul stresses that everyone is subject to the laws of the land in which they reside. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary and ever-reliable font of truth, said that Sessions had rightfully quoted the passage. She also incorrectly blamed Democratic lawmakers for the new draconian policy.

DOJ slams Comey

Though he was fired over a year ago, former FBI Director James Comey is still in our political consciousness. Most recently, that’s thanks to a DOJ internal report which called Comey’s 2016 actions “extraordinary and insubordinate”.

Specifically, the report referred to Comey’s actions during the 2016 presidential election. The report also drew larger connections between that move and decreased acclaim for the agency.

In the report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote that Comey did not properly work with his superiors in the Justice Department. However, he also concluded that the investigation was not clouded by personal bias. Horowitz said that many other aspects of the investigation fit with legal precedent.

And, finally, your palate cleanser

Mermaids have been compelling parts of history and pop culture for a long, long time. The first known story featuring an aquatic human creature arose in ancient Assyria 3,000 years ago. Various types of mermaids and adjacent “sea people” have shown up almost everywhere. Look at the One Thousand and One Nights, scads of worldwide folklore and, of course, Disney media properties. There’s even a longstanding tradition of trying to fool the gullible into believing in for-real mermaids, from the kind of creepy “Jenny Haniver” modifications of mummified sea creatures to the infamous “Fiji Mermaid”.

Next: John Oliver revisits Stupid Watergate and Mueller

You might have to content yourselves with recreations of myth, like the mermaid performers of Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs. Anyone who’s made it out of kindergarten will likely catch on that the “mermaids” are actually performers. They all have false tails and conveniently located air supplies throughout the natural springs. Still, it’s hard to watch a performance and not feel a twinge of childhood recognition.

For some ruminating on Weeki Wachee’s mermaids, check out Lauren Groff’s “Daughters of the Springs”. After that, head over to The New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine for further articles on the current state and history of the Florida attraction.