Desert Tortoise comments

Posted in: Japan's 1st unlicensed tuk-tuk taxi case referred to prosecutors See in context

If he signed on with Uber or Lyft he would be untouchable, lol.

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Posted in: Fiat Chrysler and PSA seal merger to become Stellantis See in context

Germans, Japanese, Czechs and Swedes and perhaps Koreans make good cars.

Everybody else is second rate.

Skoda sells slightly restyled Volkswagens and Volvo is owned by Geeley.

There are multiple surveys of automobile reliability and they are all over the map. About the only constant is that Japanese brands generally end up being the majority of everybody's top ten list of most reliable cars. Beyond that, assigning brand names to a particular ranking varies widely among the different rankings. One will put Tesla near the bottom of a top 25 list while another will put Tesla at number 3. Some rankings have VW near the bottom while others have VW models among the top ten. However I haven't seen a Cadillac, BMW or Mercedes Benz ranked highly in any reliability ranking (BMW rates poorly while Mini is much higher rated, weird). The Korean cars rate highly in some of the rankings while in others they don't. Buick is highly rated however in everyone's reliability rankings.

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Posted in: Apple invests millions to back entrepreneurs of color, part of racial justice effort See in context

Each generation of immigrants that landed on the shores in NY City harbor like my grand parents often went to the lower East Side to those ghettos and found their paths out through study, perseverance and parents determined to do better for their children.

African slaves came to the US chained up in the cargo holds of slave ships. Upon arrival they were taken to a slave market and sold to the highest bidder. Mothers, fathers and children separated forever, sold into a life of hard labor where an education of any kind was forbidden. This persisted for over 250 years if you count the British colonial period under which slavery was instituted. Then even after emancipation these former slaves found themselves living in segregated communities, barred from voting by poll taxes literacy tests and other artificial barriers, barred from "whites only"" businesses, barred from major public universities, if they had a k-12 school system offered it was grossly inferior to the schools whites attended, they were barred from many good paying occupations. Blacks to this day face many barriers to achievement not the least of which are unequal educational opportunities and various business practices like red lining that make it very hard for blacks to get the kinds of loans whites and Asians routinely obtain to start and build a business. But despite all that people like you blithely assume it all the fault of the blacks that they haven't caught up to the whites while seemingly resenting any economic progress they do make as somehow a threat to your own standard of living.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Apple invests millions to back entrepreneurs of color, part of racial justice effort See in context

I wonder how Brazil handles this as they had more slaves than the US.

Race relations in Brazil roughly track US trends and blacks face institutional discrimination in their country much like that in the US. Like the US it was 1950 before it became illegal for a hotel to deny service to a black customer. There was nothing akin to Reconstruction in Brazil. When slaves were eventually freed they had nothing, no land, no money, nothing. When voting was finally instituted only literate males could vote, which eliminated uneducated former slaves. Aspects of African culture were made illegal. Between 1889 and 1914 the Brazilian government pursued a policy of racial "whitening".

There is also a lesson from the military governments of Brazil in the later 20th Century that pursued a policy of what they called "Racial Democracy" arguing Brazilians were all the same and there was no need to discuss race at all. That policy failed because while nobody would talk about it, the racism very much existed and a boiling pot was going to explode if the lid wasn't lifted as afro groups were excluded from power. Not talking about racism in fact furthered the extent of it.

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Posted in: 26th anniversary of Great Hanshin Earthquake observed See in context

We had a pair of big quakes in 2018, a M6.4 one morning followed the next evening by a M7.1 . In between the earth never really stopped shaking. My wife described it as like sitting on a boiling teapot. Right after the first quake our then 4 1/2 year old looked up at me and exclaimed "Baba, how did you make the house move?". It was the comic relief we needed and we still laugh out loud at the memory. His little face got very serious however when i told him "that wasn't me moving the house, it was the ground underneath shaking".

We were lucky. Despite living very close to the epicenters of both quakes both ground breaks moved away from us and thus most of their energy was directed in the opposite direction of town. Also the ground here is very very hard minimizing ground motion. Very little damage here. The same quake in LA with its soft loamy alluvial soil would be highly destructive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Chinese city reports coronavirus found on ice cream See in context

The drying process used for the milk powder and why should kill any virus. Because virus need a living cell to reproduce, any virus that do survive heat drying will not reproduce in a bag of dried powder. After reconstituting the whey and milk powders are heated in a vat with other ingredients. Once mixed the hot ice cream mixture is subject to the Pasteurization process which should kill any virus present in original ingredients. It seems very low probability that any virus is coming into China with the imported ingredients. It seems higher probability that there is some means of contamination occurring locally.

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Posted in: Kremlin foe Navalny faces arrest as flies back to Russia See in context

He is either supremely naive, maybe even stupid, or he knows something and isn't letting on. The way he bamboozled one of his poisoners into blabbing away on the phone makes me think there is more to this than meets the eye. But, hey, I could be wrong.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Posted in: Trump trial pending; McConnell calls it 'vote of conscience' See in context

Mitch McConnell is basically passing the problem of conducting Mr. Trumps trial to Chuck Schumer. By the time the Senate reconvenes on 19 January the votes for Georgia's two new Senators should be certified allowing them to be seated. Once they are seated, Mitch McConnell passes his gavel to Chuck Schumer and joins the opposition bench. At that point it becomes Chuck Schumer and the Democratic caucus in the Senate calling the shots.

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Posted in: Trump trial pending; McConnell calls it 'vote of conscience' See in context

Well, it was designed so that the legislative branch does in order to maintain checks and balances because the executive branch appoints the top justices of the judicial branch.

Sigh. I think you do not understand the process. The lower house basically files charges with the impeachment. The trial is held in the Senate but the Chief Justice is the judge of the proceeding just as in any other court. The Senators listen to evidence presented by members of the House, the "Impeachment Managers" who perform the function of the prosecution in a criminal trial. The person being impeached brings their own lawyers as defense counsel to argue their case. The jurors are the Senators. They listen to the testimony, ask questions through the Chief Justice, the judge of the trial, and are the jurors who vote to either convict or acquit.

Btw, "checks and balances are a misnomer". The correct term is the separation of powers. Each branch has powers not assigned to the other two branches with each serving as a check on the power of the others so no one branch becomes all powerful.

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Posted in: Japan, U.S. to build lunar orbiting outpost See in context

At some point mankind must become a multi planet species if it intends to survive, and that implies man must master long distance space flight and develop the ability to live and work for years on end in space. No matter how well man takes care of this planet, it is ultimately doomed. While the Sun is in its Main Phase now, that will end eventually. As the Sun consumes its hydrogen supply, fusing it into helium, it will gradually heat up. In a couple of hundred million years the Earth will be too hot for liquid water to exist and become uninhabitable. In a billion years or so the Sun will finish consuming its hydrogen and exit the Main Phase. That that point it will balloon rapidly into a red giant with a diameter greater than the current orbit of Earth around the Sun. Earth will either be pulled into the sun by gravity or its surface re-melted from the intense heat. That means for mankind to survive as a species (along with our doggies and other critters) we must master space travel and find other planets we can inhabit. While we have time there is no time like the present to begin learning.

A space complex at the Lunar LaGrange Point such as L4 or L5 would have a very stable orbit so almost no fuel is required to keep a satellite or space colony in position there and being in zero gravity there would be no need for the massive boosters used to launch spacecraft from Earth. Also satellites or a space station can be parked in very small orbits around LaGrange Points L1 or L2 with very little energy expended.

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Posted in: Mother Farm See in context

Goats and alpacas are both such gentle animals. Among my favorites.

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Posted in: Five Hong Kong democracy protesters seek asylum in the U.S. See in context

There is a well established Hong Kong ex-pat community in the US. Lots of support mechanisms for them and they speak Cantonese.

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Posted in: Japan welcomes Britain's plan to send aircraft carrier group to Asia See in context

t's not wrong to say then that Japan is still under occupation, as I have argued here and elsewhere many times. Inadvertently, you supported my claim that the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is shenanigans -- a facade to camouflage the hard reality.

To the extent that Japan has never fully atoned for its barbarities throughout the 20th Century and refuses to teach it's students the truth about the many wars and occupations undertaken by Imperial Japan not the least of which was attacking the USS Panay in 1937 and later the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, it does not surprise me you think that way. The true hard reality is that Japan has boxed itself into a corner by refusing to own up to its past. The reason those Marines are there is because you attacked us, never had the decency to apologized for it and obtw, the outcome of that war left a very messy Asia with many American enemies to deal with. The very least Japan can do considering how they are responsible for the mess they left post war Asia in and the many enemies they left the US to deal with in the wars aftermath is to let US forces use Japanese soil to keep a lid on the post war mess Japan is responsible for. If it wasn't for the IJA invading China, Chiang Kai-shek would have crushed Mao in 1937 and Asia would be a much better place than it is now. Japan owes us.

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Posted in: Republican Party faces rage from both pro- and anti-Trump voters See in context

.I don't recall - when I was young - people being as irrational - just plain stupid - as too many people seem to be being today...

Sure they were. It was more accepted. A lot of irrational "old wives tales" were accepted as the gospel truth back then before there was enough scientific knowledge to refute them. I still struggle with my wife on this. She assumes that if you go someplace cold you will catch a cold. I tell her that to catch a cold you have to be exposed to the virus and she dismisses this with a wave of the hand. Of course I don't know what i'm talking about. She goes outside in the cold and comes back with a runny nose saying she now has a cold, never mind that a natural body response to cold air is to pump mucus into the nose to keep it warm. Sigh. Same thing with her thing that cold water is bad for you, it upsets your stomach, and you never drink anything cold when on your period. We now have scientific knowledge that says otherwise but those old fables die hard, and when they involve things of greater consequence than catching a cold or upsetting your stomach people push back hard. Try to tell people sexual orientation is genetic, not a choice or that one's sexuality isn't necessarily binary as there are many intersex genetic conditions that lead to ambiguous sexuality (mixtures of male and female gonads that often were surgically "corrected" right after birth with no thought to the person's eventually sexual identity) and often those with traditional ways of thinking and little counter education can't handle the truth and their heads explode.

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Posted in: Pelosi calls for prosecution of any Congress members who might have helped pro-Trump siege See in context

In any event, the one set of crimes mentioned in the US Constitution that are not subject to pardon are those committed as part of an impeachable offense. That becomes another argument to use to invalidate any attempt at a self pardon by Mr. Trump.

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Posted in: Pelosi calls for prosecution of any Congress members who might have helped pro-Trump siege See in context

What I am suggesting P. Smith there is a clear political link between the impeachment trail and Joe Biden first one hundred days in office. Also the associated political risks.

Meditate on this. Mitch McConnell has stated he will not reconvene the Senate until 19 January. He could very well reconvene sooner than that but has made a decision not to. By 19 January there is a very high likelihood that vote counts for both of Georgia's new Senators will be complete, certified by the state and both new Senators seated. If so, Mitch McConnell surrenders his gavel to Chuck Schumer and joins the opposition bench. Not his problem any more. If an impeachment trial begins after Mr. Trump is out of office the Chief Justice may not have to preside over the trial.

Another big consideration is Mr. Trump. He has apparently asked about pardoning himself. But what will he pardon when he hasn't yet been convicted of anything? The point is moot if the trial occurs after he is out of office and no longer able to pardon anyone. If he does try to claim a self-pardon before a trial and a conviction, a good argument could be made at the US Supreme Court that since one is innocent until proven guilty there is nothing to pardon until the Senate convicts him. However a self pardon could be entered as evidence of an admission of guilt in a trial.

What I am suggesting is the timing is less about partisan politics than it is about legal strategies and the timing of events are out of Mr. Biden's control. This is personal for Ms. Pelosi. This time around she was in actual physical danger as were her colleagues, and capital police she probably knew were killed and injured. It's personal for her and her and the other members of her caucus. Very personal.

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Posted in: Japan welcomes Britain's plan to send aircraft carrier group to Asia See in context

So, in your opinion, the U.S. occupation forces kept maintaining bases in post-war Japan to not let the genie out of the bottle. In other words, the U.S. military in Japan is WW II occupation forces by nature.

Hate to break the news to you but until quite recently Japan was more distrusted by Asians than China. Having US forces in Japan kept the lid on a lot of regional animosity and actually benefited Japanese trade. You can thank Xi Jinping for your neighbors change of heart. If a war broke out between Japan and China I genuinely believe South Korea would refuse to help and would in fact either remain neutral not allowing US forces to use Korean bases to help defend Japan, or side with China.

True story; when Japan first approached the US about obtaining the Aegis system, the US said no. The US didn't want Japan to have something that sophisticated in their navy. JMSDF was an ASW navy tied to land based airpower and the US 7th Fleet. Why did they need Aegis? This was mid 1980s. Asian allies all opposed Japan obtaining Aegis. The fear of Japan was real. My wife still tells me to never trust the Japanese, they will turn on us. The US eventually had a change of heart and sold Japan the Aegis system. Why? The US figured Japan would sooner or later figure out how to make something like it on their own and at that point the US would have no control over the technology. Better to sell them ours than have them develop that know how independently. That was the distrust of Japan talking. My own parents would never buy Japanese goods due to WWII.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Posted in: Pelosi calls for prosecution of any Congress members who might have helped pro-Trump siege See in context

America needs the Republican Party

I will agree but not for the reason you are probably thinking of. There needs to be competitive environment for a healthy political system. The competition of ideas is vital to elected representative government. Without it the nation will stagnate. However, the Republican Party as currently constituted needs to change dramatically to remain viable. It has to find the strength to cast out the bigots and christian fundamentalists and it also needs to learn to be honest about policy and especially about economic policy. So yeah the nation needs a "Republican Party" to provide that competition of ideas, but not the one the US has today.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: Pelosi calls for prosecution of any Congress members who might have helped pro-Trump siege See in context

Also look at the social media of all the 5 January visitors to the Capital to see if they posted anything about their activities on 6 January. There are lots of ways to prove or disprove this allegation.

But you have to know that many members of the House of Representatives now fear going to work worried they have people in their midst who were intent on doing violence to them, and they are especially fearful of the handful of members who insist on bringing guns to work. Can't be a happy place to be right now.

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Posted in: Pelosi calls for prosecution of any Congress members who might have helped pro-Trump siege See in context

If legislators led group tours of the Capital on 5 January the names of the visitors ought to be recorded in a visitors log somewhere. Check the names against those arrested so far or under investigation for the 6 January insurrection. Get photos of everyone taken on a tour through their respective state DMV and/or US Passport photos and compare these with photos and and video of the crowd. It will be apparent soon enough if the 5 January visitors were also the 6 January insurrectionists. Some of the insurrectionists may also chose to cop to something in exchange for a lighter sentence. Those who agree early to provide evidence usually get the lightest sentences. Some members of Congress may want to lawyer up soon if they haven't already confidentially retained legal counsel.

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Posted in: N Korea holds huge military parade as Kim vows nuclear might See in context

Once again American exceptionalism that ignores their responsibility in having stolen the money in the first place, requiring it to be returned.

You conveniently ignore the fact that Iranian "students" took over the US Embassy and held 52 US diplomats and other embassy personnel as hostages for 444 days. Technically that was an act of war. The US could have legally bombed the place flat, invaded and occupied Iran. It did not. Holding the money they had on deposit was a mild form of retribution for what the Iranians did. And the US did not spend it either but held it in the bank thinking it would be given to a democratic Iran if/when the ayatollahs were tossed out.

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Posted in: Japan considers various options against S Korea 'comfort women' ruling See in context

No revisionism to be allowed on any part ! Japan, like Germany does, should teach their kids war history, starting Dec 1941.

Might want to move that date back to 12 December 1937 when Japanese forces sank USS Panay on the Yangtze River. The US wanted to go to war with Japan over that incident but didn't have the military might to take on Japan. It did however spur a shipbuilding and re-armament spree and by the time Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor four years later the US had more ships under construction than it had in commission.

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Posted in: 6 high school students arrested for beating up 15-year-old boy See in context

Take away their annoyingly noisy motorbikes and there soon won't be any bosozoku. Simple, really.

Maybe not so simple. Take away the bikes and they will gravitate to something similar elsewhere. This for example:

Protection rackets in the Magic Kingdom.

Btw, not everyone on a motorcycle is a criminal. Those of us who are law abiding and ride quiet motorcycles get tired of being lumped in with the one percenters. Even as a naval officer I was tossed out of places simply for carrying a full face helmet, the rest of what I was wearing did not identify me as a motorcycle rider, short hair, clean cut and all that. But I rode a bike instead of a car and that immediately made me a criminal in the eyes of some. It gets tiring.

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Posted in: N Korea holds huge military parade as Kim vows nuclear might See in context

Even the current dictator in chief whom he said isn’t a threat to the US.

Again you misrepresent what was said. What Mr. Biden said was China was not going to dominate us because they have so many internal weaknesses.

So Obama/Biden rewarded Iran for taking American hostages and invading the embassy. Iran has never paid to make amends for taking the hostages yet somehow Obama/Biden reward that crime without recompense. Shameful.

The 19 January 1981 Algiers Accord negotiated between the US and Iran that freed the US hostages prohibits future lawsuits over the matter. The terms of the agreement are these:

The US would not intervene politically or militarily in Iranian internal affairs;

The US would remove the freeze on Iranian assets and trade sanctions on Iran;

Both countries would end litigation between their respective governments and citizens, referring them instead to international arbitration, namely to the Iran–United States Claims Tribunal, created as a result of the agreement;

The US would ensure that US court decisions regarding the transfer of any property of the former Shah would be independent from "sovereign immunity principles" and would be enforced;

Iranian debts to US institutions would be paid.

As a point in fact the US never fully complied with the agreement until 2016 when the US released funds to Iran, the pallet of cash you fixate on. Note the agreement prohibits future litigation outside of an Iran-US Claims Tribunal. The hostages have since been paid $10,00 for each day of captivity and each of the hostage's families received a lump sum payment of $600,000.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: N Korea holds huge military parade as Kim vows nuclear might See in context

Yes, there is actual video released by Iran’s Supreme Leader of the pallets coming off the transports meant to prove Americans humiliation. Put that down the memory hole did you

Again, that wasn't US tax money. That money was Iran's, seized from Iranian accounts by the US in 1979. Quit spouting lies.

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Posted in: China's 2020 auto sales fall for third year amid coronavirus See in context

For you to boycott completely first you need to give up driving your cars because all the cars in the world have Chinese made parts no matter what brand it is they have a lot of Chinese vendors

My cars and motorcycles are old and pre-date the use of Chinese parts. I restored one of the old Audis because I won't buy the new models with automatic braking and all the ridiculous electronics I don't need. An old 1990s Avalon is next up for refurbishment. Selling a newer Avalon to pay to fix the older one, the new one is just miserable to maintain. When I buy spare or repair parts I always buy US, EU or Japanese manufactured parts. Batteries are always US made. Tires mostly German or Japanese. No Chinese crap tires. Most of my clothes are made in the US or Latin America. All of my shoes except one pair of boat shoes and a pair of walking shoes are made in the US. The boat shoes come from the Dominican Republic, the walking shoes are from Vietnam. Bedding is US or occasionally India. Same for towels. Our vacuums are a Kirby, a Tristar, both US made, a Miracle Mate (Canadian), an early 1980s Kenmore made in Kentucky or a modern Japanese market Panasonic made in Japan (for some reason 100 volt Panasonics run happily on US 120 volt power but some really cool Sanyo models like the Airsis wont).

I'm lucky I guess to live in California because virtually all the food we eat is grown locally. Even the "Asian" foods are mostly grown and packed in California including our wonderful Calrose rice, the world's best. My wife is originally from the countryside outside Shanghai and won't eat anything that comes from China. She 100% doesn't trust it, especially their seafood. Taiwanese products are ok however. Taiwan has quality control.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Republican Party faces rage from both pro- and anti-Trump voters See in context

The really sad aspect of this violence is that it could be prevented by one man being decent and conceding he lost the election. Donald Trump admitting he lost the election would defuse all of this. That kind of humility is apparently asking too much of him.

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Posted in: Republican Party faces rage from both pro- and anti-Trump voters See in context

When the Cold War ended in 1989, I had hope that America had learned its lesson from other governments, learned what not to allow in the USA., learned not to allow some evil loudmouth demagogue rise to 'the top'. Not to allow what happened in Germany, Spain, Japan, Greece, Portugal, Argentina, Thailand, etc. during the 1920s, 30s up to WW2. Not to allow a personality cult dictatorship to occur in the USA like what's happened in so many other lands like Iraq, Iran, Libya, North and South Korea, China, Singapore, Indonesia, etc. Oh no, not my country the USA. Not here.

Funny but I too was just leaving the military as the Berlin Wall came down. The Navy was already decommissioning squadrons and releasing personnel in a RIF (Reduction in Force). My thought was the opposite of yours, that without the big communist bloc enemy to keep everyone honest and without the ideological competition for hearts and minds bred by the Cold War, the worst abuses of capitalism and conservative politics would be given free reign as there would no longer be a reason for some to be reasonable for the sake of looking better than the communists. Unfortunately my fears have become manifest.

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Posted in: N Korea holds huge military parade as Kim vows nuclear might See in context

About the best the US and South Korea can do is well armed deterrence and patience. North Korea's military isn't the major threat. It is China. Kim won't go to war without China's blessing and if that ever comes there will be divisions of PLA and squadrons of PLAAF right behind, and the PLAAN will make it very hard for US and Allied forces to operate near Korea as they did during the Korean War. Without Chinese support DPRK forces would last maybe two or three weeks. It is China that tips the scale in their favor.

Btw, Kim wants nuclear weapons because he thinks the US and South Korea might try a surprise invasion and he doesn't trust the Russians and Chinese to come to his aid. He saw the old USSR abandon Vietnam when China invaded in 1979. North Korea had very bad relations with Kruschev but also had bad relations with Mao. They were especially resentful of Mao reconciling with the US in the 1970s while not demanding the US withdraw its forces from Korea as a condition of diplomatic recognition. North Korea also feared the disruption caused by the Cultural Revolution had weakened China greatly and they would not be able to come to their aid as they were consumed with internal warfare. The end result was Juche, self reliance. The North Koreans don't trust the US, but they don't trust the Chinese or Russians much either and want to have some ability to defend themselves in case either erstwhile ally failed to come through for them.

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Posted in: N Korea holds huge military parade as Kim vows nuclear might See in context

What exactly did Kim get that stoked Donald’s ego so much?

You apparently missed the significance of a North Korean dictator walking around a market in Singapore.

No US President before Donald Trump would meet with a North Korean dictator and give that dictator recognition as North Korea's legitimate leader. The North Koreans were always a pariah state to be shunned. Their leaders beneath the dignity of a US President and not worth their time. The US would never even say formally that the North Korean government was the legitimate government of the North Korean people. Those meetings gave Kim and the DPRK the stamp of legitimacy they had so long craved. It was a huge domestic and international political victory for Kim.

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