Trump's odd gift to Kim: A trailer for a pretend movie - about them
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- Donald Trump brought an odd gift to Tuesday's historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un — a four-and-a-half minute trailer for a pretend movie about the two leaders
- Theresa May is trying to quell a caucus rebellion over the shape of the UK's Brexit deal
- Daimler has allegedly been using "defeat devices" on its diesel vehicles to cheat pollution controls
- Missed The National last night? Watch it here
Kim Jong-un's Hollywood moment
As ice-breakers go, it was at the very least elaborate.
Donald Trump brought an odd gift to Tuesday's historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un — a four-and-a-half minute trailer for a pretend movie about the two leaders.
"That was a tape that we gave to Chairman Kim and his people, his representatives. And it captures a lot, captures what can be done," Trump told reporters at his post-meeting press conference. "I think he loved it."
The basic premise of the montage — created under the title of "Destiny Pictures" — is that the two men stand at the crossroads of history. But while the short-film has many of the conventions of a Hollywood trailer — a deep-voiced narrator, swelling music, sweeping vistas — it projects a uniquely Trumpian vision.
"Seven billion people inhabit planet Earth. Of those alive today, only a small number will have a lasting impact," the narrator intones as the video begins with shots of the Coliseum, Giza's Pyramids, the Great Wall and the Taj Mahal, then dissolving to pictures of Trump and Kim.
But the old cycle of peace (shots of smiling children) and "times of great tension" (illustrated with black-and-white images of soldiers and Korea's Demilitarized Zone), doesn't have to be repeated, the narrator advises.
And there, around the one-minute-30-second mark, is where things get a little weird.
For one thing, the trailer basically begins again, pitching itself as "a story in a special moment in time, when one man is presented with one chance, that may never be repeated." (Cue shot of generic basketball player dunking in slow motion.)
"What will he choose? To show vision or leadership? Or not? (Shot of film melting on hot projector bulb, which may or may not resonate for the technologically challenged North Koreans.)
The one path is illustrated with empty store shelves and American jets screaming past aircraft carriers. The other with launched missiles reversing themselves into their silos, and a special effect that shows the normally dark Northern half of the Korean peninsula lit up as brightly as the South when seen from space at night.
"They have great beaches! You see that whenever they're exploding the cannons into the ocean, right?" the U.S president later explained after he played the video for the press corps. "So I said, 'Boy, look at that beach. Wouldn't that make a great condo behind,' and I explained it … Instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world right there."
It's not clear who came up with the idea for the trailer, which Trump first showed to Kim and his entourage on an iPad. But the president said it was made by a Hollywood production company.
There is an actual Destiny Pictures, which is run by Mark Castaldo, a former Atlantic City and Las Vegas croupier. There's no mention of a White House connection on the company website, but the firm does have some interesting projects in production, including White Chocolate, a coming-of-age film that is pitched as the "Karate Kid set in the backdrop of Chinese street-basketball."
It's not the first time that Trump has pulled out the iPad for a foreign leader. When he travelled to China last November, the American president made a point of showing Xi Jinping a video of his six-year-old granddaughter, Arabella Kushner, reciting poetry in Mandarin.
And the trailer is not even the strangest gift to a U.S. "frenemy," a distinction that still goes to the inscribed Bible and key-shaped cake that Ronald Reagan sent to the Iranian ayatollahs in the mid-1980s.
But it is worth watching, if only to try and figure out where all the stock footage of crowds, city-scapes and beauty spots like Machu Picchu fit into efforts to denuclearize North Korea.
Theresa May is trying to quell a caucus rebellion over the shape of the UK's Brexit deal, after her justice minister resigned in protest this morning,
Philip Lee, who had supported the Remain side in the 2016 referendum, stepped down from cabinet so he would be free to vote against his government on a measure that would give Parliament more of a say over the final exit terms from the European Union.
"The people, economy and culture of my constituency will be affected negatively," by Britain's decision to leave the EU, and it would be "irresponsible to proceed as we are," said Lee, who represents the riding of Bracknell in Berkshire.
His break with May brings the number of Tory Brexit "rebels" to a dozen — enough to join with the opposition and ensure passage of a House of Lords amendment that would force the Commons to hold a "meaningful vote" before a final Brexit deal is signed.
But in order to avoid such a yes/no vote, it now appears that May has made a significant concession and that MPs will be allowed to debate and tinker with the final deal.
In a deal struck after hours of tense negotiations with her rebel faction, the government has agreed to introduce its own Brexit amendment that will give Parliament "a voice" in the process.
The compromise will essentially allow MPs to decide what should happen if May is unable to reach a divorce agreement by next spring's final deadline, ending the prospect — and threat — of an abrupt "no-deal exit."
A poll published earlier this week suggests that Leave voters are losing faith in May's ability to secure what they hope for, with only 41 per cent now saying that they trust the Tories to bring the negotiations to a conclusion.
The same poll found that overall, the Conservatives now hold a slim, two-percentage-point lead over opposition Labour.
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Mercedes embroiled in 'Dieselgate'
Daimler has become the latest German automaker to be caught out in the ongoing emissions scandal, allegedly using "defeat devices" on its diesel vehicles to cheat pollution controls.
Yesterday, Germany's Transport Ministry ordered the company to recall 238,000 Mercedes Benz C-Class, Vito and GLC models and replace software that can make their engines appear more fuel efficient and less polluting than they actually are.
The company has not admitted any wrongdoing, but says it will voluntarily extend the recall to cover a further 536,000 cars and sports utilities it sold in other parts of Europe.
And Dieter Zetsche, Daimler's CEO, was reported to be in "intensive talks" with the government.
The recall order is just the latest development is the slow-moving "Dieselgate" scandal, which was touched off in the spring of 2014 when researchers from West Virginia University discovered that two types of Volkswagen cars met emissions standards when hooked up in the garage, but emitted almost 40 times more nitrogen oxides when driven on the road.
Since then, Volkswagen has paid out more than $30 billion US in fines and legal settlements — including a $291 million Canadian class action — lost a CEO, and seen several of its former executives sentenced to jail.
Audi, Porsche and BMW models have also been found to have the "defeat devices."
But Daimler has come under particular scrutiny, with ongoing probes launched by the U.S. Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency and German prosecutors.
And authorities appear to be in no mood to let the scandal fade away.
Yesterday Audi issued a statement confirming that police had raided the homes of company CEO Rupert Stadler and another member of its board.
Both men are being treated as "suspects," the release said.
"They are each accused of fraud as well as indirectly falsifying certifications. This relates to bringing diesel vehicles fitted with manipulative emissions management software into circulation on the European market," says the company.
A few words on ...
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney on U.S. President Donald Trump's insults to Justin Trudeau after the G7 summit. "I've never seen language like this ..."
Quote of the moment
"To treat it there are limited tools in the tool kit. What I've gone through is surgery and then radiation and chemotherapy, and then you hope for the best in terms of how much time you have to live."
- Former NDP MP Paul Dewar tells CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning that he has stage four glioblastoma — the same type of brain cancer that killed Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie — and that his diagnosis is terminal.
What The National is reading
- Ottawa got hosed by U.K. on Franklin ships deal (CBC)
- Modi's plan to get millions more Indians flying faces turbulence (Reuters)
- Sweden charges man at centre of the Nobel scandal (CBC)
- Lasik's risks are coming into sharper focus (NY Times)
- Russian World Cup officials aim to stamp out racism in the stands (CBC)
- Giant African baobab trees die suddenly after thousands of years (Guardian)
- Fact Check: Did Justin Trudeau's eyebrow fall off during a press conference? (thejournal.ie)
Today in history
June 12, 1957: Avril Campbell, age 10, hosts CBC kids show
Long before she changed her first name to Kim and became prime minister of Canada, little Avril Campbell interrogated a cowboy called Alberta Slim about his elephant, Susie. She wasn't quite sure where to put the microphone and her interviewing style was a bit rapid fire, but there was a least one hard-hitting question: "Tell me, does Susie enjoy being kept in captivity?"
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