A running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy
A running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy
A running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy
Hexbyte – Science and Tech
Published on Mar 1, 2019
343 Industries studio head Bonnie Ross explains the team’s approach to Halo Infinite, including its new engine, in an interview from the DICE Summit in Las Vegas just prior to being inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame.
Original Xbox Boss Robbie Bach – IGN Unfiltered 09:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE_7B…Xbox Co-Creator Ed Fries – IGN Unfiltered Ep. 8:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUULN…Subscribe to IGN for more!
Watch more on IGN here!
DAILY FIX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_e1a…
Hexbyte – Science and Tech
If you are looking to get a Surface Pro 6 sometime soon, this might be a perfect time. Microsoft is offering a really good deal on the entry-level Surface Pro 6 that makes the device much more affordable.
The company is offering a platinum Surface Pro 6 and Type Cover bundle for only $799, and that’s $260 cheaper than the normal price of $1,059. Even if you were to just get the Surface Pro 6 separately without the Type Cover, this model would cost you $899. So by comparison, this is a much better deal as you are getting the Pro 6 and a platinum Type Cover with Microsoft’s Alcantara fabric for only $799.
And if you need a little more storage, the 256GB variant of the black Pro 6 is going for $1,329. That model usually goes for $1,199 and adding the $129.99 Type Cover brings the price up to $1,329. So yes, you are not getting any discounts on this variant, and the Type Cover also doesn’t have the Alcantara fabric, as noted by Neowin.
You can pick up either of the bundles from the Microsoft Store here.
Hexbyte – Science and Tech
It’s rare that a season pass for a game costs $33 more than the game itself. Dead or Alive 6 owners can now drop nearly a hundred bucks on two new characters and 62 costumes. Considering downloadable content costs for the previous game, that could be a bargain.
Prices for the season pass bundle, now available alongside the game on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, weren’t revealed until yesterday. The high price was not unexpected, however. Tecmo Koei released vast amounts of cosmetic DLC for Dead or Alive 5: Last Round: hundreds of costumes totaling hundreds of dollars. So the Dead or Alive 6 developers rolling out this $93 deal—and specifies that there will be more—isn’t a huge surprise.
What does $93 get a player? In addition to the new characters, the 62 costumes include NiCO’s “Technomancer Gear,” seen above, and Nyotengu’s wrestling getup.
Here’s everything that comes in the pricey bundle:
That might not seem like a lot, but it works out to about $1 a costume and $15 for each additional character, including their debut outfits. Plus there’s the peace of mind from knowing that you’re completely covered for Dead or Alive 6 DLC for three months.
– Downloadable content not included in the list above may be released during the same period, but it will not be covered by this Season Pass 1.
Almost completely covered.
Hexbyte – Science and Tech
Have you ever heard the tale of Cassandra, the oracle who kept revealing true prophecies, only to have no one believe her? That story’s been updated for a modern age, with Reddit user hiticonic taking on that tragic role. Hiticonic shared the map of Apex Legends 11 months in advance of the game’s official reveal, and he was greeted with scorn and boos for his efforts.
“Alleged Minimap for Rumored Titanfall Battle Royal game,” hiticonic’s thread on the Titanfall subreddit from last April, contained an image of a map for what would later be revealed as Kings Canyon. The user added no context, however, and received few responses in return.
But if you’re familiar with Apex Legends, you can tell that this strange leak was accurate, even though there have been a few tweaks to it before the game’s reveal and launch.
Not only was his thread seriously downvoted, but the top response was, “I really hope this doesn’t happen.” (That commenter has since apologized for his hubris, writing, “I have put too much time into this game so far, my prejudice was very wrong.” He also added, “You should see my inbox lmao.”)
Some users went so far as to call hiticonic a fake in their original thread, suggesting that hiticonic was creating fictional maps for Reddit upvotes. You would think that the release of Apex Legends would vindicate them in the eyes of his peers, yet the top comment once again casts doubt on hiticonic.
“/u/hiticonic is a mod here,” writes the venerable Awoo—. “HMMMMMMMM,” he adds. “I smell intentional leaks from the dev team. I’m onto you.”
But Respawn is an active participant in the Titanfall and Apex Legends communities, and the studio affirmed the leak in a reply from community manager JayFresh_Respawn.
“Haha I remember this!” he wrote. “It was a relief to see folks blow it off and I was thinking, ‘well, he’ll be able to say I was right when next year comes along.’
Part of Apex Legends’ wild success is the fact that the game came out of seemingly nowhere. Influencers and streamers were invited to play it over an exclusive weekend, and that kicked off the hype wave that has led to the game cultivating a healthy player base. Maybe its for the best that hiticonic’s leak landed like me on the supply ship, which is to say: extremely badly.
Hexbyte Tech News Wired
Who knows what the kids are doing online, right? They’ve got their TikToks and their Snapchats and their flop Instagram accounts, while parents are still posting on Facebook and Twitter. The disconnect between how the olds and their children use the internet leads to parental anxiety, and in the case of this week’s resurfacing of the viral fake Momo challenge, panic and misinformation.
The Momo challenge, according to breathless news reports and posts from worried parents and law enforcement, is a game circulating on social media that encourages kids to engage in increasingly harmful behavior until, eventually, they’re supposed to commit suicide and upload the video to the internet.
Momo is basically every parent’s nightmare. But as multiple outlets have pointed out, there’s no evidence that it’s a real viral challenge. The admittedly freaky image of “Momo” is based on a sculpture by a Japanese artist. While claims of suicides connected to the challenge started surfacing last year, according to Snopes, authorities have never definitively tied any cases to participation in an online game. YouTube—which had been reported as hosting Momo videos—released a statement Wednesday saying it hasn’t encountered Momo videos on the site, and the “extremely online” teens reading warnings about Momo from their parents have responded with, well, eye rolls.
Momo appears to be another example not of dangerous behavior going viral, but of a hoax going viral. It’s what youth advocate Anne Collier calls a “viral media scare.” These are the “razor blades in the Halloween candy” myths of today. And just as that pernicious worry spread in the offline era, Momo and its ilk are boosted along the way not only by concerned parents trying to warn others, but also by the news media, which picks up those warnings and amplifies them.
The result, experts say, is that while the Momo scare didn’t start out real, the attention it’s receiving can actually have the opposite effect of what’s intended: All these warnings can raise the risk that teens or young children would learn about the challenge and take it seriously—or at least be freaked out by the scary image of Momo itself.
If you see a warning on social media about a dangerous viral challenge, like the tweet that seems to have reignited the interest in Momo this week, take a breath. Pause. Before you hit retweet or share, ask yourself two things. “‘Do I know who this behavior will benefit? And what information am I lacking?’ If you can’t answer what you don’t know, and if you can’t answer who is going to benefit from your action, then pause,” says Whitney Phillips, a professor of media literacy at Syracuse University.
Hoaxes like this are created by people with an agenda. And that agenda is virality and panic. The moment you share, you are playing right into their hands.
Playing into their hands isn’t just bad because it gives bad people what they want. It also risks actually hurting the children you’re hoping to help by sharing the information in the first place. “The immediate risk is that more people will be exposed to the hoax, with some of those, possibly, attempting to enact the behaviors,” says Phillips. Virality itself can be a vector for harm. Additionally, some bad actors out there might try to capitalize on the virality of Momo and use it as a weapon to target vulnerable kids; essentially, to copycat on what the hoax claims to be and then attempt to push kids to actually harm themselves.
It’s not just parents who are vulnerable to accidentally spreading hoaxes in an effort to help children. One WIRED staffer said their child’s school sent around a warning about Momo this week, and Taylor Lorenz at The Atlantic notes that even law enforcement can be taken in, choosing to err on the side of sending a warning rather than ignoring it. Speaking as a parent myself, I understand it’s hard to ignore an alert about something that could potentially hurt your kids.
As parents, it’s our job to keep our children safe. And the internet, with all its nooks and crannies and fast-moving parts, presents a particularly fraught minefield for kids. Chantal Pontvin, a parent I interviewed earlier this month about social media and kids, put it this way: “My friends have a lot of fear about social media and their children and what they might be doing. They have no interaction with their kids online. They have no idea,” she told me.
Couple that opacity with stories like the one this week about cartoons on YouTube being spliced with instructions on how to kill yourself—videos that have been confirmed to exist—and it’s enough to make some parents want to raise their kids in the woods without internet access. It certainly creates a feeling that something like the Momo challenge, or the Tide Pod Challenge or the Blue Whale game, or any of the other viral hoaxes could very well be reality. The world is a crazy place!
“Parents need to remember that just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is.”
“All compelling hoaxes have a kernel of truth,” says Monica Bulger, senior fellow at the Future of Privacy Forum, who studies children’s rights and media literacy. “And they play into our reptilian minds.” By that she means not only that they play into our biggest fears, but that they sound similar enough to other stories we’ve heard that our brains, which largely run on autopilot, interpret them as being true. This is the illusory truth effect—a glitch in human reasoning that makes things that are familiar feel true. It’s why sometimes even fact-checking a lie can ultimately lead to more people believing it, because it increases the lie’s exposure.
Viral hoax creators know this. “Many meme creators are highly skilled at playing to fears and biases. There are the general things that parents fear, and the top one is child safety,” says Bulger. “Parents need to remember that just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is. You actually can’t trust your gut.” The best way to guard against this cognitive glitch is just to be aware of it.
So what should you do next time you come across some dire warning on the internet, especially if it’s something that hasn’t been debunked? Dramatic reports about kids’ behavior online can be a bit like other kinds of high-profile incidents prone to misinformation, and experts have some suggestions for how to treat them.
Bulger says that after you pause, wait. Wait a few days. Wait before talking to your kids. Wait and see if you get an actual warning from your school or law enforcement. And if you do get one, like my colleague did, consider whether it includes corroboration. School districts and police departments are authorities, sure, but enough of them have proved to be just as vulnerable to these panics. Are people reporting that any children have actually encountered this or hurt themselves? If the answer is yes, then talk to your child about it. If they bring it up, react with understanding, not panic.
There’s a good reason not to just immediately bring up with your child every viral meme or challenge that you hear about. You could traumatize them, says Bulger. She notes that constant panicked warnings from parents to kids about what they are seeing online are a little like active shooting drills in schools, in that they themselves can do damage. “What causes more harm, the initial meme or the panicked response to it?” she asks.
What’s clear, though, is that like shooter drills, warnings about the Momos of the internet are responses to a real problem. The internet is, in fact, a dangerous and hard-to-understand place. It’s full of creeps, bullies, conspiracy theorists, and extremists. And though hoaxes and memes are most often harmless, they aren’t always. Take Pizzagate, which resulted in someone getting shot, and SlenderMan, which inspired two tweens to try to kill their classmate. “Part of what makes our contemporary moment so anxiety inducing is that nothing makes sense,” says Phillips. It’s hard to tell truth from fiction, meme from contagious suicide pact.
What you can do to help your kids navigate this crazy world is encourage an open dialogue about social media and the internet. This will make them resilient, and more able to see something like Momo and not fall victim to it. Don’t, says Bulger, respond by trying to control everything your kids see online. After a certain age, at least, they will come into contact with the internet whether you like it or not.
“So be a safe space for your child to talk to you. It shouldn’t be this constant bombardment of questions about these hoaxes—did you see this Momo thing? Embed internet and media literacy in the daily rhythms of the family,” says Bulger. She wants you to let your kids know: “We’re all online, we’re all figuring this out, and we are a safe space for you to talk about anything you see.”
And most importantly, don’t panic.
Hexbyte Tech News Wired
In policy, academic, and urban planning circles, know that they hear your grousing about traffic and roll their eyes. Yep, traffic is bad. It drives you nuts. It’s not good for the environment: All that idling! But in the US, those pragmatic wonks have been pitching the same solution for decades. You just won’t listen.
A solution to your traffic troubles is congestion pricing, which places a surcharge on certain roads at certain times of day. The policy essentially makes roads subject to the market, charging users more when supply is short and demand is high (say, rush hour) and less when there’s lots of supply and not much demand (say, in the middle of the night). You drive it, you buy it.
But for decades, congestion pricing has been seen as a political nonstarter in the US, because it charges drivers—YOU—for something they’re used to getting for free. The charges have seen success since the early 2000’s in places like Singapore, London, Milan, and Stockholm. But now American-accented traffic whining has reached ear-piercing levels, and city governments are hurting for funds. So congestion pricing might, finally, be coming to big US cities, places like LA and Boston. Even New York.
This week, New York frenemies Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio came together to unveil a plan to centralize and transform the city’s transportation system. Right now the plan is more amorphous manifesto than policy, but in broad contours: It proposes a congestion charge for all sorts of vehicles that drive into Manhattan below 61st Street. (A charge on taxis and ride-hail vehicles entering parts of the borough kicked in this year.) Drivers would get discounts during off-peak hours, and emergency vehicles, those ferrying disabled passengers, and those under “hardship” would be exempt. Officials estimate the plan would raise $15 billion by 2024, which would be placed in a funding “lockbox” dedicated to improving public transportation. (Other transit funds would come from an existing internet sales tax and a proposed cannabis tax.)
The honking, the beeping, the fumes: What would New York be without ‘em? New Yorkers will find out: If the scheme gets through this year’s state budgetary wrangling, it could kick in as early as 2021.
New Yorkers might not be the only ones who have to start paying tolls to drive city streets. After decades of talk, serious-seeming congestion pricing schemes are popping up in a number of US cities.
Los Angeles Metro officials, searching for a way to pay for 28 ambitious transportation projects by the time it hosts the Olympics in 2028, have floated a suite of congestion pricing ideas: charging drivers per miles traveled, or turning carpool lanes to toll lanes, or levying fees on those entering busy neighborhoods during busy times. Today, the Metro’s board unanimously upvoted a one- to two-year feasibility study of the idea. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said late last year that her administration has begun to study congestion pricing, and that she wants to implement some plan by 2021, the end of her current term. Proposals are also bubbling up in Boston, though no official legislation on congestion pricing has been introduced.
“There was a time when academics loved to talk about congestion pricing and we didn’t think it would exist outside our classrooms,” says Michael Manville, who studies urban planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. “Now you see this common thread of governments feeling they need revenue and that they’ve exhausted the typical sources.”
So cities hurting for funds is one factor that’s made charging drivers feel more viable. Another is the decline of transit—three of those cities have seen ridership dips in the past five years, and they need money to turn it around. (Seattle is the exception.) Meanwhile, app-based services like Uber and Lyft have made people more comfortable with the idea of paying per mile or per ride. And leaders are realizing that even the widest highways won’t reduce traffic. Instead, they tend to induce drivers to take more trips, leaving congestion levels the same and sometimes making them worse.
Another reason congestion pricing suddenly feels possible: Today’s city residents, especially young ones, seem to see cars more as transportation tools than as extensions of their identity. Which means they might be more willing to give up that steering wheel for alternatives, like transit, bikes, or ride-hail apps. “A certain number of people who grew up hardwired into car culture had to yield the stage,” says Charles Komanoff, a transportation analyst and longtime New York City environmental activist. “They had to be supplanted by new generations of people who look at cars and driving functionally, rather than culturally or ideologically.” If driving is no longer the status quo, then it becomes easier (at least politically) to charge tolls.
Despite all this, there are potholes ahead. Critics have long argued that congestion pricing is regressive, putting an unfair burden on low-income people without access to public transit. Manville points out that the poorest city residents often can’t afford cars, which means free roads are more like a subsidy for higher income people who can. He also argues toll revenues can offset costs for lower-income drivers—by plowing those funds back into public transit alternatives, or by providing a direct subsidy, like governments do for heating and electric bills, and even public transit.
And political opposition remains: In cities where the charges have been proposed, more than a few politicians have come out strongly against them. Then there’s the whole implementation thing. Charge too much money, and you have a useless road that no one will drive on. Charge too little and “you’ve given people the worst of all worlds,” Manville says: A trafficky street that everyone pays to drive on.
And finding exactly the right price for a road is always a work in progress. In Singapore, authorities reexamine and readjust its charges four times each year, to make sure they’re properly pushing and pulling people off the roads at right places and times. London is also still tinkering, after it saw its glorious congestion zone results (a 30 percent drop in traffic delays!) dwindle in recent years: Now the average vehicle travels more slowly in the zone than it did before the charge. In December, authorities officially closed a loophole that allowed Uber and other taxi firms to operate in the zone without paying the charge. (The city’s traditional black cabs are still exempt.)
Which is all to say: congestion pricing is hard work! But so is driving in traffic. And living and working in a city with fewer cars and more alternatives might be worth the effort.
Hexbyte Tech News Wired
Tesla has long billed its Model 3 as the electric car that would bring electric driving to the masses. And today, a year and a half after launching the sedan, it finally started selling it at the price point CEO Elon Musk has been promising for years: $35,000.
“Since we created the company, from the beginning, this has been the goal,” Musk said on a call with reporters. When the car entered production in July 2017, Tesla offered just one long-range variant, for $56,000. Until today, the cheapest available version has started at more than $40,000.
Of course, $35,000 isn’t actually a magic number, but does officially make the Model 3 the least expensive “long-range” fully electric vehicle on the market today. (The average EV sells for about $60,000, according to Kelley Blue Book.) Tesla swipes that crown from the Chevrolet Bolt, which offers a range of 237 miles and starts at $37,500. (It’s worth noting that the price for both cars have gone up, in a sense: Both Tesla and General Motors are losing access to the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles, having applied it to more than 200,000 cars. They have, though, also joined forces to lobby for a change to that cap.)
Now, the $35,000 car will be the base version of the Model 3, with 220 miles of range, a 130 mph top speed, and a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.6 seconds. Musk also announced that Tesla is introducing a new version of the car called the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which will feature an upgraded interior, can hit 140 mph and run from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, and go 240 miles between charging stops. It will start at $37,000.
The price cut on the sedan means Tesla has to trim elsewhere. The company also announced it’s moving its sales process entirely online. In the process, it will close many of its stores, with resulting job cuts—and vital cost savings. “I wish there was some other way to do it,” Musk said. “It’s a binary choice: a $35,000 car and have fewer people, or not have a $35,000 car.” Remaining stores will live on as “galleries” and information centers.
Since customers won’t be able to test drive cars anymore, Tesla is extending its return policy to allow for returns after a week, in case buyers don’t like it. Musk pledged it would be very easy for customers to claim refunds. (It has not always been easy in the past.) Moving online also helps Tesla operate in states with franchise laws that require cars be sold through dealerships. Plus, that’s how people operate now. “It’s 2019,” Musk said. “People just want to buy things online.”
Tesla will, however, add an unspecified number of jobs at its service centers. (Last week, Consumer Reports announced it will no longer recommend the Model 3, citing reliability problems.) “I really have as my top priority this year making service amazing at Tesla,” Musk said.
Another big change: Buyers can (once again, after a hiatus) purchase Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving option for an extra $5,000, which Musk promises will be “feature complete” and ready to roll out by the end of this year. There’s a catch, though, because the company’s vehicles still won’t drive on their own. Today, the “self-driving” feature includes Tesla’s new “Navigate on Autopilot” capability, which allows the vehicle to change lanes and take highway interchanges on its own, a self-parking feature, and “Summon,” which Tesla promises will allow your car to find you anywhere inside a parking lot. But even when the capability rolls out, drivers will still have to carefully monitor their vehicles as they execute these “driverless” moves, Musk says—a choice that some in the industry call risky. Even as the self-driving vehicle community grows bearish about the tech, Musk says a truly self-driving feature, which will be able to ferry its drivers anywhere, should be complete by the end of 2020.
While Musk said he does not expect to make a profit in the first quarter of this year (after doing so in the third and fourth quarters of 2018), getting the car to this price point is a sign that Tesla is confident it can rein in costs while producing 7,000 or more Model 3s a week. This kind of manufacturing requires exquisite control of costs and supply chains. “I call this a game of pennies—like a Game of Thrones, with pennies,” Musk said. Staying atop that ladder will be vital, considering Musk said that he expects demand for the Model 3 to hover around half a million cars a year, while acknowledging that’s based purely on a “gut feeling.”
Getting to $35,000 has been a long journey through what Musk has called “production hell,” including a failed attempt at using factory automation on an unprecedented scale and building cars in a tent. Meanwhile, Tesla and Musk have fought other fires: an ongoing battle with the SEC, shareholder lawsuits, and criticisms that it markets its Autopilot feature as more capable than it is.
While Musk is always quick to make bold promises, he said the Model 3 won’t get any cheaper from here. Of course, he also promised that future Tesla models will cost less—the Model Y SUV could make its debut this summer. And those could hit the road in just two to three years’ time.
Hexbyte Tech News Wired
Last year, Seattle’s city council repealed a tax on big employers less than a month after approving the legislation designed to raise funds to support homeless programs. The quick reversal came after Amazon, which employs around 45,000 people in the city, halted the construction of a new building and threatened to not occupy space it had leased in the planned Rainier Square tower because of the tax. Now Amazon says it won’t move into the Rainier Square tower after all.
“We are always evaluating our space requirements and intend to sublease Rainier Square based on current plans,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We have more than 9,000 open roles in Seattle and will continue to evaluate future growth.”
The company leased 722,000 square feet, enough for between 3,500 and 5,000 people, according to The Seattle Times, in the still-under-construction Rainier Square tower in fall 2017.
The announcement follows Amazon’s decision not to open an additional headquarters in New York City following backlash over the $3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives the company was expected to receive from state and local governments. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has appealed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to reconsider, The New York Times reported Thursday.
In Seattle, members of the city council last year initially proposed a “head tax” of approximately $500 per employee on companies with annual revenue in the city of $20 million or more. Amazon would have had to pay around $22.5 million per year for its 45,000 employees. The tax would have changed to a 0.7 percent payroll tax in 2021. After Amazon halted construction on its new building and threatened to sublease the Rainier Square space, the city council passed a compromise that cut the head tax in half and ditched the payroll tax idea entirely. The city expected the revised tax to raise $47 million a year for services for the homeless and construction of affordable housing.
After the compromise, Amazon announced it would resume construction of the new building, but didn’t commit to occupying Rainier Square. At the time, an Amazon spokesperson said the company was “disappointed” by the council’s decision and was “very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses.”
Less than a month later, facing a ballot initiative to overturn the tax, the city council voted to repeal it.
Tensions between Amazon and Seattle were already growing before the head tax. When Amazon announced its plans to open a second headquarters outside of Seattle, then Seattle Chamber of Commerce chair-elect Heather Redman said it should be a wake-up call for the city to change its attitude toward the company.
But Amazon’s critics see the company’s decision not to occupy Rainier Square as proof that there’s no point in acquiescing to its demands. “Last year @Amazon threatened to scale down growth to bully Seattle from taxing big biz to fund social housing,” city council member Kshama Sawant, a member of Socialist Alternative, tweeted. “Now they’re carrying out the threats despite Dem politicians (shamefully) repealing Amazon Tax. Clearly, caving to corporate threats doesn’t work.”
Hexbyte Tech News Wired
A much-touted two-day summit between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un failed to reach the finish line Thursday, as talks collapsed and Trump returned to Washington, DC. It’s unclear exactly what unraveled the process; Trump says Kim asked for the lifting of all economic sanctions in exchange for closing the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Complex, while North Korea reportedly says it asked for relief on some, but not all. But throwing around blame for Hanoi misses the point: The summit was a mistake to begin with.
That’s not to say the US and North Korea shouldn’t pursue negotiations over the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear disposition. They absolutely should, and will continue to, per Trump’s departing remarks. “Chairman Kim and myself, we want to do the right deal,” Trump said. “Speed is not important.” But within that otherwise upbeat assessment lies the main impediment to real progress in the Korean Peninsula: Trump and Kim should not be the ones doing the deal, at least not the bulk of it. Hanoi is what happens when they try.
“You don’t start with the summit. You finish with the summit.”
Former ambassador Robert Gallucci
Trump has built his brand as a master negotiator, despite uneven results in the political realm. And in fairness, his gambit to meet with Kim in Singapore last summer resulted at the very least in what international relations wonks call confidence-building measures. Importantly, North Korea hasn’t tested a ballistic missile or nuclear weapon in over a year. And its relationship with South Korea, while still tense, has somewhat thawed.
“These are positive steps, and they show that the North Koreans are at least willing to have negotiations and engage in diplomacy with South Korea and the United States,” says James McKeon, a policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a DC-based nonprofit.
But in the months since Singapore, North Korea has offered little to no evidence of curtailing its weapons programs. And why would they? Despite Trump’s declaration last June that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” the Singapore accord affirmed only that “the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization.” They’ll get to it, eventually, at some point, or at the very least give it some serious thought.
Chalk the vague language, and the resulting lack of verifiable progress, up to Trump’s untraditional diplomacy. “When we first were looking at this going into the Singapore summit, we were saying that it was ass-backwards. This is not the way you’re supposed to do it,” said former ambassador Robert Gallucci in a call with reporters. “You don’t start with the summit. You finish with the summit, and you make sure all the prep work is done, and then the two big guys presumably come together and sign something.”
Gallucci would know; as chief US negotiator, he helped secure the 1994 Agreed Framework, which tamped down North Korea’s nuclear ambitions for nearly a decade. And while he acknowledges that tensions between Kim and Trump may have escalated to such a dangerous point last summer—thanks in no small part to Trump’s own rhetoric—that a shotgun summit in Singapore was needed, he and others argue that it’s not a viable process for substantive change.
“President Trump’s unorthodox approach to diplomacy has created an opening, starting back in Singapore and continuing to Hanoi,” says Lynn Rusten, who served as senior director for arms control and nonproliferation in the Obama administration and currently works on nuclear issues at the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative. “But the only way that they can capitalize on that and bring it to fruition is to revert now to the more traditional negotiating process.”
Hanoi was anything but. Trump appointed the widely respected Stephen Biegun as special envoy to North Korea six months ago, but Biegun has only been able to conduct a single round of working-level talks with his North Korean counterparts. And even that came only in the last three weeks, after Trump announced when the summit would take place during his State of the Union address.
Nuclear diplomacy is not American Ninja Warrior. You don’t get bonus points for navigating obstacles faster. “It’s completely unrealistic to think that you can just go in with very little preparation and reach an agreement on something that is so complex,” says Rusten, especially given how enmeshed the nuclear issues are with a broader set of regional economic and security concerns. “There’s got to be an incremental, step by step approach.”
“It’s somewhat surprising that they would play such high-stakes poker at such a high-profile event.”
Jenny Town, 38 North
That should be especially evident given North Korea’s long history of failing to keep its nuclear promises. As much as Trump has touted denuclearization as the endgame, arms control experts widely agree that there’s likely no way to get there overnight, or in a single sit-down. What it will take is weeks or months or more of people on the ground hammering out fine details, not a single two-hour meeting between two heads of state. Especially when at least one of them likely has other things on his mind.
And while Thursday’s failure could have been worse—Trump could have, say, promised to withdraw all US troops from South Korea, or Kim could have threatened to resume missile testing—it extracts a real cost. By trying for a grand bargain, Trump and Kim missed the opportunity to establish clear, specific goals that their teams could work then work towards.
“It’s somewhat surprising that they would play such high-stakes poker at such a high-profile event,” says Jenny Town, analyst at North Korea watchdog 38 North. “It’s really hard to see how we might maintain momentum going forward.”
Maintaining the status quo is preferable to more nuclear tests, but it’s not a viable long-term solution. “While it’s good that tensions are down, North Korea is continuing to churn out fissile material and produce weapons,” says Rusten. “The facts on the ground continue to change in a negative direction.”
It’s admirable that Trump has made neutralizing the threat from North Korea a top priority. The relative calm of the last eight months shouldn’t be dismissed. But if the White House wants to make actual progress, it needs to put in the work before the next high-profile meeting. That’s one concession Trump, so far, seems unwilling to make.