DeVos’ DOE Withdraws Obama’s Title IX “Dear Colleague” Letter, Provides “Interim Guidelines”

Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education announced this week that they would be withdrawing the infamous 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Obama era. The letter drastically changed the procedure and tonality of campus sexual harassment investigations and had a chilling effect on internal sexual harassment investigations on college campuses. While extra provisions were made for the complainants under the rules of Title IX (preventing sexual discrimination against female students) nearly all protections for the accused were stripped away, leading to hundreds of disturbing cases where ultimately the accused was found innocent too late to save their college career. Reason.com many of the worst cases in this article, and it will blow your mind.

DeVos’ DOE vowed to withdraw the letter and so they did. Now they’ve released “interim” guidelines  and (an accompanying Q&A memo) for colleges to follow in their sexual harassment investigations. Naturally, many feminist groups and left-wing media types are hysterically announcing this as end of protections for college women forever.

 

Now they’ll just be able to raped at will! If only we had laws against such a thing.

Of course, it’s not quite that dire. In fact, it isn’t even close to that bleak but one wouldn’t expect left-wing Chicken Littles to actually read and compare the rules. Both documents are dry and heavy with bureaucratic language, as these things tend to be. They are easily accessible and I encourage everyone to and compare for themselves before descending into insanity, but for those who don’t have the time or intellectual curiosity, here is a quick rundown of the nut and bolts of the (2017)  “interim” provisions and how they stack up against the (2011) “Dear Colleague” requirements.

  • 2011-The school has a responsibility to respond quickly and reasonably to any accusations, and to conduct a thorough investigation.
  • 2017- This one remains pretty much the same.

 

  • 2011- Upon receiving a complaint, the school must take immediate action to eliminate the harassment and must provide counseling services and protections from academic consequences (such as missing classes/tests while dealing with an investigation) to the complainant.
  • 2017– The school must provide said services to both parties until an investigation is concluded. (Q&A on Sexual Misconduct on Campus, page 2) Interim measures are individualized services offered as appropriate to either or both the reporting and responding parties involved in an alleged incident of sexual misconduct, prior to an investigation or while an investigation is pending…In fairly assessing the need for a party to receive interim measures, a school may not rely on fixed rules or operating assumptions that favor one party over another, nor may a school make such measures available only to one party. 

 

  • 2011-The school’s investigation must be prompt and impartial
  • 2017-The school’s investigation must be prompt and impartial. DeVos’ guidelines simply emphasize impartiality and a “case-by-case” approach. (Q&A on Sexual Misconduct on Campus, page 4) An equitable investigation of a Title IX complaint requires a trained investigator to analyze and document the available evidence to support reliable decisions, objectively evaluate the credibility of parties and witnesses, synthesize all available evidence—including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence—and take into account the unique and complex circumstances of each case.

 

  • 2011- Any complaints should be officially reported and adjudicated as official Title IX violations (which triggers government intervention), avoiding informal resolutions between a given school and involved parties. Schools should avoid any form of mediation (even on a voluntary basis) involving the accuser.
  • 2017 – Any complaints may be officially reported and adjudicated as official Title IX violations, however individual institutions are free to pursue informal resolutions if all parties agree.

 

  • 2011- The school governing body may without some information about complaints from the accused, including any notice of intent to discipline.
  • 2017 – The school governing body must make all evidence equally available to both parties. (Q&A on Sexual Misconduct on Campus, page 5) The decision-maker(s) must offer each party the same meaningful access to any information that will be used during informal and formal disciplinary meetings and hearings, including the investigation report.20 The parties should have the opportunity to respond to the report in writing in advance of the decision of responsibility and/or at a live hearing to decide responsibility.

 

  • 2011- Schools must use the “preponderance of evidence” standard  (i.e., it is more likely than not that sexual harassment or violence occurred, Dear Colleagues Letter, page 11)
  • 2017 – Schools may use the “preponderance of evidence” standard or the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, otherwise known as “innocent until proven guilty.”

 

All other provisions of the “Dear Colleague” letter remain in tact.

Despite the salacious headlines that are based more in “Trump Derangement Syndrome” than in reality, the new interim guidelines are not designed to weaken victims, but to strengthen the process. In seeking to further protect the rights of victims, Obama’s DOE created new victims – the accused who were being assumed as guilty until proven innocent. As repeatedly detailed by reporters who actually care about the truth, these guidelines led to some pretty horrifically unjust outcomes for young men who were ultimately found innocent of the charges against them. In some cases the charges themselves amounted to little more than a clerical era, and yet innocent people were forced to abandon their education at great personal cost.

No one should be discriminated based on their gender. That is the heart of Title IX. Obama-era regulations created a new victim class, rather than eliminating one.

No, rape isn’t legal and dudes can’t just go around grabbing boobs whenever they want (sorry for the trigger, Brooke Baldwin).

In this country, an accused has all the same rights as an accuser. It is the very foundation of our justice system and a college campus is the last place we should ignore such a reality.

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Mel Brooks Warns Us That Political Correctness Will be the Death of Comedy

Legendary satirist and politically incorrect movie king, Mel Brooks, recently lashed out at political correctness and pegged it as the vehicle that will bring about the “death of comedy.”

Brooks is best known for comedy hits such as “Blazing Saddles,” Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” and “The Producers,” all of which would trigger university students and social justice activists into foaming-at-the-mouth seizures.

According to the Telegraph, Brooks sat down with BBC4’s Today on Thursday, and spoke negatively about how political correctness will ruin one of humanity’s greatest assets.

“We have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy,” said Brooks. “It’s not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”

Brooks noted that movies like 1874’s “Blazing Saddles,” a comedy about a black man who takes over as sheriff of a racist town, could never be made in today’s socio-political climate. Brooks said the portrayal of racial prejudice is what made the film work.

“Without that the movie would not have had nearly the significance, the force, the dynamism and the stakes that were contained in it,” said Brooks.

Brooks said that comedy does have a line however, and there are some lines even he draws.

“I personally would never touch gas chambers or the death of children or Jews at the hands of the Nazis,” said Brooks. “Everything else is okay.”

Brooks is currently working on transforming his hit “Young Frankenstein” into a West End stage show. The Telegraph reported that Brooks hopes to make a stage adaptation for Blazing Saddles in the future.

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Russia Threatens to Strike US Forces in Syria

This undated frame grab from video posted online Monday, May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS. Airstrikes have intensified over the past days as U.S.-backed fighters have marched toward the city, getting closer to besieging it from all sides. (Aamaq News Agency via AP)

Random people pass through a typical Arab city. (Aamaq News Agency via AP)

As the war on ISIS approaches end-game (amazing how soon that happened once the Obama crew left the White House and Trump let the military get down to business rather than using the war on ISIS as a stalking horse for allowing Iran to expand its influence) a new war is shaping up between the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is an amalgam of al-Qaeda-lite militias and Kurdish forces of the YPG/YPJ, and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), also known as the regime’s army.

Last Saturday, the SDF was hit by a Russian/Syrian airstrike:

“At 3:30 am (0030 GMT) on September 16, 2017, our forces east of the Euphrates River were targeted by Russian and Syrian regime warplanes in the Al-Sinaaiya area,” the SDF said.

It said six of its fighters were wounded.

Al-Sinaaiya is an industrial area northeast of the city of Deir Ezzor, about seven kilometres (four miles) from the east bank of the Euphrates.

“At a time when the SDF’s brave forces are scoring great victories against IS in Raqa and Deir Ezzor… some parties are trying to create obstacles to our progress,” the statement said.

Now the Russians are claiming the SDF have shelled SAA positions and are talking of dire consequences:

Russia on Thursday raised the threat of a direct confrontation with U.S. forces in ­Syria, saying that it would target areas occupied by American units and U.S.-backed militias if its troops came under fire.

The warning was issued amid rising tensions in the Syrian desert between the United States and its Kurdish and Arab allies on the one hand, and Russia, the Syrian regime and Iranian-backed militias on the other, as both converge on territory held by the Islamic State in eastern Syria.

A Russian military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, had twice in recent days shelled Syrian government positions outside Deir al-Zour, a strategic city in the region.

Konashenkov said Russian special forces are helping Syrian government troops fight Islamic State militants in the battle for the city.

Moscow has conveyed to the U.S. military command “in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where SDF fighters are located would be quickly shut down,” Konashenkov said in a statement. “Firing positions in those areas will be immediately suppressed with all military means.”

As the kids say, “Bitch, please.”

The Russians have made a big showing of firing missiles into random swatches of desert:

But, in reality, Russia doesn’t have the military competence to retaliate in any meaningful way. But there is a very real danger of a needless conflict. There is American artillery firing in support of the SDF

And unlike Syrian artillery, we tend to hit what we shoot at. Russia has “special forces” (a word about Russian special forces, I’ve yet to talk to anyone who has been around them that came away impressed with their skill level) advising the SAA, one can infer from Konashenkov’s mewling that some Russians were killed or injured in that shelling. The wording of his statement seems to imply that he at least blames US artillery for the shelling.

Right now, CENTCOM staff and representatives of the Russian forces in Syria are meeting to sort out the mess and re-establish what had been fairly clear separation lines. But it is going to be difficult to do that with two hostile armies jockeying to secure the spoils of victory. (BTW, that Axios article in the link seems to think Obama is still president. The decision to suspend US-Russian military cooperation was a presidential one, there is no “ban” on cooperation to violate.)

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BREAKING: McCain A “No” Vote On Graham-Cassidy

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, during the committee's confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary-designate James Mattis.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, during the committee’s confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary-designate James Mattis. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In a Friday afternoon press release, U.S. Senator John McCain has announced his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare reform effort, casting serious doubt over whether or not the bill can pass in the Senate.

McCain’s statement calls “regular order,” meaning he wants to see the bill put through committee and debated on the floor, as well as a bipartisan effort to come to a decision. According to the release, McCain believes that major legislation like this should not be passed on a party-line basis.

That means that, right now, the vote is 50 for and 50 against, with McCain joining Rand Paul in wanting to keep the Affordable Care Act completely and totally in effect along with the Democrats. A vote by Mike Pence is needed to break that tie.

However, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are “leaning no” in their opposition, and it is likely that McCain’s opposition will give way to their announcements later today or over the weekend.

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Republicans Are Getting KILLED in the Recent Polls

It’s no sure thing that Republicans will lose seats in the mid-term, but based on the current polling, they’re off to a pretty poor start.


Hip-hop mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, left, interviews Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, for MTV before the final night of the Republican National Convention Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004,  in New York.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Hip-hop mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, left, interviews Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, for MTV before the final night of the Republican National Convention Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

During the Bill Clinton-George W. Bush era, the party of the President losing seats in the midterm was not guaranteed. Barack Obama’s personal popularity changed that back to the previous pre-war trend, but he’s no longer in office. Donald Trump is, and it’s an open question how his voters will operate in a midterm environment.

But the early polls aren’t looking great. Ed Gillespie still hasn’t won a single poll since winning the nomination to be the next Governor of Virginia. Ralph Northam appears to be cruising against the Republican who has never won elective office in his life.

After an initial troll poll by a Republican leaning firm, Robert ‘Kid Rock’ Ritchie is getting clobbered in Michigan polling.

And Trump surrogate Chris Christie appears to have annihilated his own party in the state, as Republican Kim Guadagno can get no traction at all against Democrat Phil Murphy.

It’s early, but this is the sort of trend that leads to a wipeout wave of retirements.

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Mattis: Seoul Will Not Be at Risk in a War With North Korea. Experts: Yeah, No

James-Mattis

Everyday it is getting more difficult to see how the current situation with North Korea ends without either a humiliating climb-down by one of the parties involved or in war at some level. A climb-down is becoming more expensive for both sides. For Kim Jong Un, capitulation and agreement to abide by UN Security Council resolutions would probably result in his chubbly little head being hoisted on a pike and paraded through downtown Pyongyang. Trump backing down would effectively destroy US power and influence in the Far East for a couple of generations if not forever. In short, we are at a position where war of some type looks appealing to both sides.

On Monday, Defense Secretary James Mattis addressed the likelihood of war and stunned a lot of observers:

The United States and its allies have not shot down any North Korean missiles because Pyongyang has yet to launch one that directly threatens American or Japanese territory, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday.

But he said that could change. North Korean missiles have been falling “in the middle of the ocean,” Mr. Mattis said. “Were they to be aimed at Guam, or U.S. territory,” he added, “that would elicit a different response.”

The defense secretary also said he believed that the United States had found military options to handle the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula that would not put the South Korean capital, Seoul, at grave risk, though he refused to elaborate on what those might be.

American officials also do not have high confidence that the military could find and destroy North Korea’s entire arsenal of long-range missiles and nuclear warheads. It would then be up to American missile defenses to knock out any that survived and that North Korea might use to attack the United States or its allies.

Even a limited strike — on, say, a North Korean missile on its launching pad or a missile in midair — would pose risks that the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, might retaliate, setting off a spiral of escalation that could plunge the Korean Peninsula into war.

Mr. Mattis would not say how the United States might bypass that risk while exercising military options. “I won’t go into detail,” he told reporters at the Pentagon during an unannounced news conference on Monday. He also declined to say specifically whether those options would be “kinetic” — military-speak for lethal force like bombings, airstrikes or ground combat.

This was met with some derision by the cadre  of nuclear experts who have zero training, education and experience in the field of nuclear weapons targeting or military strategy. Via Huffington Post Attack On North Korea Could Spare Allies, Secretary Mattis Says. Analysts Aren’t So Sure.

“I don’t know what plan would not put Seoul at risk,” said Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “The bottom line is: North Korea does have the artillery. It’s vague enough that I want to give [Mattis] the benefit of the doubt, but I cannot conceive of a way where you would militarily engage with North Korea and not put Seoul at risk.”

and

Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution specializing in Korea and China, was puzzled by Mattis’ statements, arguing that the defense secretary is usually a “voice of real reason” in the Trump administration.

“He’s a very sober, careful guy,” Pollack said. “Frankly, I haven’t got a clue about what he’s talking about … He knows what the terrain looks like, he knows what the risks are, he knows how deeply buried and dispersed the North Koreans are… I guess I’m having difficulty connecting the dots.”

and

<blockquoteVipin Narang, an associate professor at MIT studying nuclear proliferation, said any expectation otherwise seemed like “extremely heroic assumptions.”

>“It is more likely that we cannot have 100 percent certainty in disarming the country,” he said in an email. “Any attack on North Korea that doesn’t fully annihilate its conventional and WMD forces exposes Seoul ―and U.S. forces and dependents, Japan, U.S. territories, and even possibly the U.S. homeland ― to potentially massive destruction.”

I’ve held for quite some time that the view that Seoul is at some extreme risk is utter bullsh**. The most important reason is that shooting missiles at Seoul doesn’t fit in with either a NK invasion plan (North Korea’s army is forced by geography to pass through Seoul if it heads south and demolishing the city makes that advance impossible) or some kind of kimchee Götterdämmerung (in this scenario, Kim will volley his missiles at Tokyo or any US territory he can reach).

Somehow these think-tankers seem to think war is some sort of giant capture-the-flag exercise where the guy who captures or destroys the other guy’s capital wins the war automatically.

If one has to make the choice here who to believe, a handful of self-declared experts with no real world experience of any kind, or Mattis, I know who I’m going with. YMMV.

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Touré Sides with Heartless North Korean Totalitarian Dictator Because Trump is Rude

Touré Neblett is one of those left wing grifters who has a knack for presenting really bad ideas in a pseudo-intellectual way that makes foolish people feel smart. This made him a darling of MSNBC devotees while he was a contributor on that network. Occasionally the facade slips and his underlying vapidity is revealed.  A prime example is the time argued that Holocaust survivors were beneficiaries of white privilege.

Another example is his tweet this morning in support of Kim Jong Un against President Trump. The vicious dictator of North Korea who eliminates those who might oppose him by having them eaten alive by dogs or assassinated with powerful nerve agents in airports is the reasonable one in Touré’s damaged brain. Never mind his routine defiance of international sanctions, starvation of his people, and the constant threats of nuclear attack. He said something bad about Trump therefore he must be good.

I’m not exactly a huge supporter of Trump and I have the rage tweets of morons calling me a leftist to prove it, but I have no problem with Trump saying what he said about Kim Jong Un. The hysteria on the left is reminiscent of the pearl clutching after Ronald Reagan rightfully described the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.”

The stupidity here condemns itself but he still got lit up on Twitter.

Touré—perhaps seeing another “Holocaust privilege” moment unfolding—later walked back, or at least attempted to clarify his dumb remark.

Eight years of “leading from behind” got us to the point where Kim is brashly threatening to nuke U.S. territories. There’s diplomatic lunacy and then there’s diplomatic lunacy.

Keep digging.

They’re not avoiding the issue. They’re disagreeing with your inane assessment.

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I Always Knew Obamacare Was a Nightmare. Now, I’m One of the Millions Living It.

Since its enactment, I’ve always acknowledged the fundamental flaws in Obamacare. Because of the law, I was able to stay on my parent’s health insurance until I was 26. By then, I had a full-time job with excellent health benefits, including medical, dental and vision coverage. Frankly, my health coverage was better than that of my parent.

As millions of Americans grappled with skyrocketing health insurance costs as Obamacare was being implemented, I never really had to worry about it. My employer covered 100 percent of my premium, I had a relatively minuscule deductible, and my co-pays were a non issue. That was then. This is now.

Recently, I was laid off from my job. I am now among the millions of Americans trying to figure out which health insurance plan to buy, all the while becoming more and more frustrated by the actual “coverage” included in them.

Because I no longer have an employer-sponsored plan, I’m left with plans on the individual market, where the cheapest premium I’ve been able to find thus far would cost me less than $100 per month.

Sounds great, right? Wrong.

That’s because with any plan with a monthly premium I can actually afford, the ridiculously high deductibles (ranging from $5,000 to nearly $10,000) basically ensures I’ll never even be able to use the coverage I buy.

The alternative isn’t much better. I could choose not to purchase health insurance and pay out of pocket for any medical expenses. However, I would then be stuck with a $1,000 penalty come tax time, and God help me if I’m forking over to the federal government one more penny than I have absolutely have to.

Now, keep in mind that I am a relatively healthy 27-year-old single male. I’ve never had surgery. I’ve never so much as broken a bone. I’m what many policy wonks might call the type of person who would “balance the risk pool.” In other words, the relatively low expense of my health care costs balance the costs of older, sicker individuals, at least that’s how the system is supposed to work.

Newsflash: it doesn’t.

This frustrating and, frankly maddening, experience has reminded me of the very real problems with Obamacare that remain unsolved nine months into the Trump administration. If only Republicans controlled the House of Representatives so they could repeal Obamacare. If only the GOP held the Senate so they could get rid of the massive health insurance company boondoggle that is Obamacare.

If only there was a Republican president to sign the repeal legislation into law….oh wait.

While Republicans whine about how horrible Obamacare is while not bothering to fix it, many Democrats claim the law is “working” and that “millions” more Americans have health insurance because of the partisan law. What bull.

As I’ll soon be reminded along with countless other Americans, just because one “has” health insurance doesn’t mean they can use it. You know, kind of like how many lawmakers have a brain but apparently can’t use it.

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Fox’s New Primetime Lineup Is Pure PR Genius

It’s no secret that Fox News hasn’t exactly been portrayed as the best place for women to work lately.

Beginning with former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson publicly accusing former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment last year, a number of top executives at the conservative-leaning cable network, as well as Bill O’Reilly, host of the No. 1 rated program in cable news, and Eric Bolling, a popular commentator who appeared on “The Five” and later “Fox News Specialists” lost their jobs.

Other Fox News personalities, besides Carlson, made similar sexual harassment claims, resulting in a tumultuous year for Fox. More than a year after Carlson’s initial claims against Ailes, Fox News announced the latest addition to its brand new prime time lineup, and the move is pure public relations genius.

Fox News announced earlier this week that conservative radio host Laura Ingraham would take the 10 p.m. ET slot. Just days later, it announced that the network’s justice correspondent, Shannon Bream, would sit in during the 11 p.m. ET hour. The debut of these two new shows will follow “The Story,” hosted by Martha McMallum, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” and “Hannity.” That means that of the five shows during Fox News’ prime time lineup, three of them are hosted by women. Coincidence?

In no way am I a suggesting that Fox News named Ingraham and Bream as hosts simply because they are women. Both are incredibly talented individuals who earn ratings and, at the end of the day, that’s what Fox wants. But it would be naive to suggest that the fact that these individuals are women never crossed Fox News executives’ minds, given the public relations nightmare it has experienced over the last year and a half.

Fox News wants to assure its viewers that women who work there are valued just as any male employee is valued. This latest move proves that not only does it value women as people, it also rewards their professional accomplishments.

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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Trades Fiery Rhetoric with Trump

Ok. Ouch.

I kind of had a feeling that when North Korea’s little ruling maniac answered Trump’s tough rhetoric from his United Nations address, that he wouldn’t show any signs of backing up.

In fact, I was pretty sure that he’d see Trump’s crazy, and raise him a bat-crap insane.

With a h/t to The RightScoop:

The speech made by the U.S. president in his maiden address on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing world concern.

But, far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.

A frightened dog barks louder.

And he was just getting started.

Further, the statement read:

After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.

His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one that I have to follow to the last.

And the closer, lest anyone get the impression that Kim Jong un is a man that can be reasoned with, on any level:

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.

Dotard.

Don’t bother looking that one up. It means “senile” or “foolish old person.”

So the war of harsh words and violent rhetoric continues, at least until one of them gets itchy and decides to take it to another level.

kim-jong-un-statement

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