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North and South Koreas Begin Talking

January 10, 2018 by Gail Nussbaum in News and Media, Politics

President Moon

After what is being described as a successful meeting between two high-level leaders of North and South Korea, there is discussion that a meeting between the two heads of the quarreling countries will soon take place.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea told journalists that he is ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a position he has long held but only seems could become reality in the wake of the successful recent high-level talks. The meeting led to an invitation for North Korea to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics, to be held in South Korea in February.

There have been no meetings between the respective heads of the two Koreas since 2007, and Kim Jong Un has never met with any world leader since he took over from his father’s reign in 2011.

The meeting is not expected any time soon, but some analysts believe it could happen sometime within the next five years, the duration of Moon’s term as president. He came to power in May 2017.

“Kim has never met any foreign leader, so it would be meaningful for him to make his first summit a meeting between Koreans,” one expert said.

The agreement allows North Korea to send officials, athletes, cheerleaders, reporters and others to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, a mountainous area near the border between North and South. The number of people in this delegation will number between 400 and 500. The deal also says that the two Koreas will actively cooperate in the Olympics to “enhance the prestige of the Korean people.”

The next step is military talks to try and de-escalate the recent nuclear threats from the North Korean missile program. A military hotline is going to be re-established, opening inter-Korean communications, which had originally been shut down due to nuclear tensions.

“It’s still very early in this process, and we have to see how much momentum it acquires, but so far this year is definitely getting off to a very different start,” said John Delury, a China and North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul. “You have to knock on the door to see if it will open.”

No Time-Out for US Military Exercises During Winter Olympics in South Korea

December 31, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in News and Media, Politics

Official DOD Photo of James Mattis Secretary of Defense.

Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that the US will not suspend its military exercises it is holding close by the Korean Peninsula just because of the Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to take place in South Korea this coming February.

Due to the past year’s escalation in missile tests coming from North Korea there is international worry that the safety of the Olympic games in February could be at stake if North Korea is provoked in any way.

US military exercises in the region have been known to annoy North Korea in the past. The regime often complains that US maneuvers are in preparation for an invasion, even though the US has explained that the exercises are just to improve the US’s military readiness. Despite the reassurances, North Korea’s state-run media said that joint exercises between South Korea and the US was provocative, pushing North Korea and the US “to the brink of nuclear war.”

South Korea is considering postponing or cancelling a planned military exercise due to commence in the spring, in order to reduce tension and/or conflict during the Olympics. However, Mattis said the US would not change its own plans due to diplomatic issues. Mattis did leave open the possibility that the exercises could be delayed for other reasons, such as the schedule of local holidays or the availability of equipment or ships.

“The rescheduling of exercises will be, as always, subject to both countries,” Mattis told reporters. “If a pause is, I’m pausing them for a period of time because of a diplomatic issue or something, no, I don’t anticipate that right now.”

In September North Korea tested an hydrogen bomb underground, while all year long it has been firing missiles and conducting nuclear tests. Last month it fired its highest-flying missile so far. None of this seems to worry Mattis, who said that “Nothing impresses him” when he was asked if he was impressed by North Korea’s accomplishments in the development of nuclear capability.

Trump Met Republicans to Discuss DACA

December 28, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in News and Media

“Two days after the election on November 10th 2016, the President meets with President-elect Donald Trump.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Key Republicans met with President Trump in the Oval Office on December 19 to discuss the best approach to dealing with immigrants who have relied on the DACA program to remain in the United States.

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created by President in 2012 as a program to allow immigrants who came to the US as children to receive renewable, two-year deportation deferrals so they could remain in the United States and work and/or study legally. About 800,000 people are in the program, which President Trump nixed in September 2017 by executive order. Trump extended the program for six additional months, telling Congress it was up them to deal with the issue.

House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho and Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona all met with Trump before the winter break to plot a course of action for DACA.

Since the six-month extension of DACA ends in March, a fix for the program is a big priority for the first quarter of 2018. Ideally, some Republicans are saying that they need to get to work on this immediately after the recess, because if talks on DACA creep too close to the January 19 government funding deadline, Republicans fear that Democrats will use that deadline to demand more of their priorities get addressed.

Republicans, for their part, would like to see a DACA fix tied to more money for border security.

Polygon’s Reade Griffith Fighting for Minority Stake Holders in Disney-Fox Deal

December 19, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in News and Media

The world of entertainment/telecommunications is reverberating with the news that the Walt Disney Company will spend in the vicinity of $52 billion to purchase almost all of 21st Century Fox, billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s telecom empire.

For Reade Griffith, co-founder of hedge fund Polygon, the purchase has compelled him to contact the Takeover Panel which is reviewing the request from Disney to not require, as is dictated by the rules of takeovers such as this, Disney to make a mandatory bid for Sky, a satellite broadcaster which Fox owns 39 percent of, if competition regulators decide it best to prevent the present £10.75-a-share offer from Fox for Sky. Sky is based in the UK.

According to UK rules regulating takeover bids, a business that purchases more than 30 percent of shares of a publicly-owned company must make an offer for the remainder of the business. This rule ensures that minority shareholders will be able to get a fair price for their stocks.

If Fox’s desired purchase of Sky is permitted by the UK regulators, then Disney will end up owning 100 percent of Sky. The problem is no one knows what Disney will do if the Fox purchase of the part of Sky it does not already own is blocked by regulators

Reade Griffith, as a stakeholder in Sky, argues that Disney’s purchase of Sky is “a significant purpose” of the overall deal, and therefore Disney should be forced to bid for the rest of the shares in order to protect minority shareholders of Sky. Griffith quoted Disney’s chairman and CEO, Bob Iger, as telling Bloomberg that Sky was a “crown Jewel” of the Fox assets, and was one of the main reasons Disney purchased Fox.

Mr. Griffith also said that Sky stakeholders would be entitled to a higher price than what Fox is offering if Disney had bought its 39 percent directly, but both companies have been careful not to put a specific value on the share in any direct way.

“The Fox and the Mouse have been more clever than that. They have included the Sky stake into a box full of other attractive Fox assets and tied it up with a bow and ribbon and told the Takeover Panel [that] Rule 9.1 does not apply and therefore no premium is warranted to minorities,” Griffith said.