News Brief: North Korea Summit In Doubt, Primary Results, Net Neutrality
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It was going to be historic, the leaders of the United States and North Korea sitting down for the first time to talk about peace on the Korean Peninsula. But now it might not happen, or it might happen. Who knows at this point?
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Yeah, I'm not sure anyone knows. We're talking, of course, about President Trump's upcoming planned talks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. Hostages were released. Compliments were exchanged. A place and a date were even set. But now North Korea is threatening to pull out of the whole thing. The question, of course, is whether this is a real threat or is North Korea just dangling this threat out there as some kind of negotiating ploy?
MARTIN: Let's ask NPR's Elise Hu. She is in Seoul, South Korea, for us this morning.
ELISE HU, BYLINE: Hey, there. Good morning.
MARTIN: It was all going so swimmingly. Right? What happened?
HU: Well, this is just a short snag, I guess I would say. We don't really know what the long-term game here is of this particular move. But North Korea is pretty explicit about how to read its recent statements. There were two that came out. The first one objected to the combined U.S.-South Korea air force drills that are going on right now. The second one was harsher. It said that the U.S. needs to kind of stop it with all the talk of getting North Korea to denuclearize in the same way that Libya did, which is something that national security adviser John Bolton suggested.
That Libya model of course, as you recall, eventually ended in the brutal killing of its leader...
HU: ...By mobs in the street.
MARTIN: That's not something Kim Jong Un would be a fan of.
HU: That's not something that - right, that's not something Kim Jong Un is seeking.
MARTIN: So let's play a little tape from President Trump last week. This is after he welcomed home the freed North Korean prisoners. Let's listen to this.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My proudest achievement will be - this is a part of it - but will be when we denuclearize that entire peninsula. This is what people have been waiting for for a long time.
MARTIN: So if what the North Korean negotiators took issue with was the suggestion by John Bolton that the regime was going to have to give up all its nukes, is that still the U.S. plan, to cajole them into doing that?
HU: Yes. Obviously, the goal of the United States is denuclearization in a permanent, verifiable, irreversible way. That has been the tack since the George W. Bush administration. North Korea agreed to, in its inter-Korean summit, complete denuclearization as well. So the statement threatening to pull out of talks really emphasizes that the problem is denuclearization on U.S. terms sort of unilaterally without security guarantees for North Korea. North Korea wants negotiation. It wants dialogue. It wants terms it can agree to. So it argues that the U.S. should make...
MARTIN: It basically just didn't like that John Bolton was out there. It didn't like that John Bolton was out there making this proclamation that this is how it's going to go - we're going to use the Libya model, for example. So...
HU: That's right.
MARTIN: ...Has there been any response from the White House about these exercises? I mean, North Korea was also miffed about the fact that the South and the U.S. were going ahead with these exercises. But these were always going to go forward, right?
HU: That's right. And the South Korean defense ministry said today that it is aligned with the U.S., that these exercises are continuing as planned. And Trump administration officials are, so far, downplaying the threat that these talks are off, too. Right now what's unclear is whether there's a serious change in course from North Korea or this is just a temporary shift in rhetoric in order to kind of slow things down a little bit.
MARTIN: Right. OK. NPR's Elise Hu for us this morning.
HU: You bet.
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MARTIN: Democrats are staging an insurgency today in the Senate.
GREENE: Yeah, they're forcing a vote on net neutrality in a last ditch effort to keep Obama-era regulations on internet service providers in place. This is Senator Ed Markey last week pushing for the vote
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ED MARKEY: A free and open internet means an internet free from corporate control and open to anyone who wants to connect, communicate or innovate.
GREENE: So this is really the latest move in a long-running debate over how to regulate the internet and keep it a free and open space at the same time.
MARTIN: OK, we've got NPR's Alina Selyukh with us in the studio to walk us through what's going on.
ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.
MARTIN: So it seems like every few months this bubbles up. Right?
MARTIN: There's a whole new chapter to the net neutrality story. It's never-ending. What exactly is happening today?
SELYUKH: OK. So politically - quick, short recap - politically what's happening here is Democrats trying to stop the Trump administration from loosening regulations written by the Obama administration. Policywise, the issue at stake is how strictly the federal government should regulate your internet service provider. This is a question the Federal Communications Commission has struggled with for a decade. For example, should your broadband provider be able to stream some video faster than other video?
SELYUKH: Or should your phone company be able to give you free data in exchange for using one specific music app? The Obama FCC, three years ago, wrote rules that sort of put internet providers under serious oversight. But now the Trump FCC has walked that back and said, as long as the companies are transparent, all the government needs to do is punish bad behavior after it happens. Senate Democrats don't like that. They want to stop this repeal from going into effect in June.
MARTIN: They don't have control of Congress, though. Right? I mean, what are the chances of this vote making a difference?
SELYUKH: It's such a unique situation that in the Senate, they have the votes. They just needed one Republican vote, and they have it from the Maine senator Susan Collins. But then, to your point, to actually stop the repeal from going into effect, they have to pass it through the House. The House right now has no plans to pick up such a vote. So in Congress, this push is looking pretty much done after today.
MARTIN: So they must know that. So they must...
MARTIN: ...See some value in holding the vote anyway.
SELYUKH: One word is midterms (laughter), as you will be talking later today.
SELYUKH: The Democrats are putting the stake in the ground as the party that supports net neutrality. They're hoping this gets people voting in the midterm elections. We are starting to see some trackers that show how lawmakers are voting on this particular issue. People are doing polls that illustrate just how passionate...
MARTIN: This animates voters?
SELYUKH: Apparently. Polls are showing people are feeling very passionate about the internet. And they feel very worried that prices might go up. There are all these conversations about sort of what will happen. The weird thing to me, having covered net neutrality for going on six years now, is this super fascinating move. You know, we went from wonky conversations in, like, backrooms of think tanks...
SELYUKH: ...To now campaign slogans and Twitter one-liners. You know, the government is meddling with your internet. Or - it's the end of the internet as we know it.
SELYUKH: So we're moving further and further away from the specifics of the policy and definitely into sort of the politics of two divided parties offering these completely conflicting versions of what will happen when the net neutrality rules go away.
MARTIN: You know the debate has moved into the culture in a different way when you can put it on a bumper sticker.
SELYUKH: (Laughter) Entirely.
MARTIN: Alina Selyukh for us this morning.
Thanks so much, Alina.
SELYUKH: Thank you.
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MARTIN: All right, after last night's primaries, it looks like Pennsylvania's congressional delegation is going to change in at least one big way come November.
GREENE: Yeah, a significant way. At the moment, all 18 of Pennsylvania's congressional districts are represented by men. That is about to change. At least one district will vote on a race with only women candidates in November. And several other races feature women with very strong chances of winning. This is part of a broader trend of successful female candidates in the 2018 election cycle so far.
MARTIN: All right. For more on this and other takeaways from last night's votes in Pennsylvania, Idaho, Nebraska and Oregon, we turn to NPR's Kelsey Snell in the studio with us this morning.
KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hey.
MARTIN: So women did well last night. Right?
SNELL: Yeah, absolutely. As many as four women look like they could be heading to Congress to represent Pennsylvania. As we heard, that's a really big shift. And that's thanks in part to a court-ordered redistricting that made many of the state's districts a lot friendlier for Democrats. And Democrats went out of their way to make sure that they went and recruited viable women who they thought could win in general elections in these districts that went from being pretty Trump-y (ph), pretty Republican...
SNELL: ...To being pretty Democratic.
MARTIN: So another trend we've noticed in the primaries so far - Washington Republicans, otherwise known as incumbents...
MARTIN: ...Facing strong headwinds in their races. Did that bear out last night?
SNELL: It did, and it didn't. This was one of those situations where we actually saw a House Republican have some success in running for higher office. Lou Barletta in Pennsylvania won his party's nomination to run for Senate. And that is - you know, that...
MARTIN: In Pennsylvania.
SNELL: ...Works out well. Yeah, in Pennsylvania.
He was backed by the NRSC, which is the campaign arm of Senate Republicans. That being said, he still has some pretty tough headwinds in Pennsylvania where the Democrat, Bob Casey, is really quite popular and is expected to fare pretty well. But on the other hand, we saw Raul Labrador, who was running for governor in Idaho. And he lost. And he was part of the big Tea Party wave. And he just - it didn't work out for him. And he seems to stick more with the trend than Barletta, who might just be an outlier.
MARTIN: Right. So before I let you go, there was this big meeting at the White House. The president met with Senate Republicans yesterday. Midterms were clearly on Republican senators' minds. What came out of this meeting?
SNELL: It was on their minds, but they didn't really get much of a chance...
MARTIN: Not in their mouths.
SNELL: ...To talk about it.
SNELL: The president spoke for roughly 45 minutes of the about hour-long time. And he spent the time running it like a campaign rally if you hear Republicans tell it. He was talking about all of their victories and how great things were going to be after the moves he'd made on trade in Iran. But the two questions that people did get in were completely about the election. It was Dean Heller, who is endangered Republican in Nevada, thanking Trump for his support and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee giving a Southern gentleman's version of please stick to the topics and support us and support our victories.
MARTIN: Stick to the script. OK. NPR's congressional reporter Kelsey Snell for us.
Thanks so much, Kelsey. We appreciate it.
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