(Washington, DC) – Rudy Giuliani is walking back claims he made Thursday that the release of three Americans being held in North Korea was imminent. Giuliani, a member of President Trump’s legal team and the former mayor of New York City, on Thursday told “Fox and Friends” that the release was happening that day.
He told reporters Saturday that he doesn’t know the status of the men and the less said about it, the better. He said that it’s being worked on and that he’s reading the newspapers like everyone else.
The White House said that a release would be a sign of goodwill ahead of a planned meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
(Pyongyang) — North Korea is warning the U.S. and other nations that support a new round of UN sanctions they will pay a heavy price. A statement from North Korea’s foreign ministry on Sunday criticized the actions and claimed the U.S. is intimidated by North Korea’s nuclear power.
In the statement issued through the country’s official news agency, it warns the U.S. that if it wishes to live safely, “it must abandon its hostile policy” toward North Korea and called the sanctions an act of war.
The UN Security Council last week unanimously approved the sanctions prompted by North Korea’s continued testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the sanctions will choke North Korea’s energy supplies and result in tighter restrictions on smuggling.
In Baltimore, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin says slapping new UN sanctions on the outlaw North Koreans marks a major accomplishment for the United States. The Democrat tells “Fox News Sunday” that “They’re pretty strong additional sanctions to be imposed against North Korea because of their continued testing of ballistic missiles.” The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says it “was absolutely a strong move forward and it was great to see China and Russia join us.” Cardin says the next step is diplomacy — finding a way to ease tensions and get North Korea to change directions.
United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley says the UN sanctions cut exports of gasoline, diesel and other refined oil products by 89-percent. It also bans exports of machinery, transportation vehicles and industrial metals to North Korea.
(SL) – NBC News reports, Kim Jong Un’s latest ballistic missile test flew 10 times higher than the International Space Station and twice as high as any satellite in low-earth orbit, according to South Korea’s military.
Although analysts were scrambling Wednesday to learn what they could about the North Korean launch, Pyongyang said it had tested a new type of missile, named the Hwasong-15.
Dictator Kim’s secretive state claimed it was carrying a “super-large heavy warhead” that was capable of striking the entire U.S. mainland. But analysts say that based on the current evidence it’s hard to prove or debunk the Pyongyang’s claim that it can now hit faraway American targets such as New York or Washington, D.C.
The North Koreans have now test-fired missiles 18 times since President Donald Trump took office in January. Tuesday’s launch was the first for more than two months.
Western officials agreed it appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, which flew further than any other demonstrated by the North.
It was fired on what is called a “lofted” trajectory, meaning it was aimed at a steep angle and traveled very high but landed relatively close to its launch site.
Reaching an altitude of around 2,800 miles above the Earth’s surface, according to South Korea, it crashed down in the Sea of Japan around 600 miles away from where it was fired.
“It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the White House.
Some experts believe that if North Korea aimed the rocket at a lower angle, as it would in an attack scenario, this range could be stretched to some 8,100 miles — theoretically putting the entire East Coast in range.
(SL) – North Korea says nuclear war could break out at any moment during large-scale naval drills underway between the U.S. and South Korea.
The North’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations said Monday that the entire U.S. mainland is within range of North Korean nuclear weapons.
He also said that North Korea won’t use nuclear weapons as long as no one joins the U.S. in taking military action against his country.President Trump’s nominee for the nation’s drug czar is withdrawing his name from consideration. Trump tweeted this morning that GOP Representative Tom Marino of Pennsylvania had informed him of the decision.
The move comes after a number of news organizations detailed his involvement in helping pass legislation that weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to stop drug distributors.
Several lawmakers had also issued calls for Trump to find a different nominee. On Twitter, he called Marino “a fine man and a great Congressman!”
(Philadelphia, PA) – Senator John McCain has nothing good to say about people who want to abandon America’s leadership in the world. The Arizona Republican spoke after accepting the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal yesterday.
McCain said it’s unpatriotic to abandon America’s obligation to international leadership for what he called a half-baked, spurious nationalism.
Former Vice President Joe Biden presented his longtime Senate colleague with the award for his lifetime of sacrifice and service to the country.
(Santa Rosa, CA) — Thousands of people in Northern California are returning to their neighborhoods today after wildfires that killed at least 41 people tore through the region. Officials say they expect more deaths as recovery teams dig through the ashes of gutted homes. More than 80 people are missing. Firefighters are putting containment lines around the two biggest fires in wine country’s Napa and Sonoma counties. Strong winds have died down and fire officials say crews could fully contain the fires by Friday. California’s deadliest wildfires have burned more than 213-thousand acres and have destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.
(New York, NY) – NFL players and owners will talk seriously about national anthem protests when they meet today in New York. Players, union reps and owners will discuss the polarizing topic before the regularly-scheduled fall league meeting.
The NFL and the Players’ Association issued a joint statement last week saying there has been no policy change requiring players to stand for the anthem.
That followed a memo to teams from Commissioner Roger Goodell saying the league would like players to stand. The athletes say the protests are about taking a stance against police brutality and racial inequality, not the military, flag, or anthem.
He’s been fired from his own company but disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein says he’s going to keep making movies — one way or another.
He’s challenging his dismissal from The Weinstein Company after he was accused of sexual offenses ranging from harassment to rape.
He’s going to attend a board of directors meeting by phone this morning in New York City to argue that his firing was illegal.
(Vernon, CA) – The company that makes Tapatio hot sauce is suing the makers of Trapatio pot sauce. Trapatio is a hot sauce infused with marijuana.
The company that makes it uses a logo similar to Tapatio’s Mexican cowboy who wears a yellow coat, red tie, and large sombrero.
Tapatio is seeking all the profits that Trapatio has already made.
(SL) –The theatrics continue with Donald Trump. #45 is stirring a firestorm of speculation with his “calm before the storm” remark. When asked about the comment at a White House photo-op today, Trump winked and said, “You’ll find out.”
He made the “calm before the storm” remark in an event with military officials last evening. Later, at a White House briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she’s not aware of anything specific that was in the remark. She batted away numerous efforts by reporters to link the comment to North Korea or Iran.
The New York Times Reports, the episode raised questions about whether the Trump administration was planning some kind of military action. For weeks, Mr. Trump has been promising to respond to any North Korean aggression toward the United States.
But it was equally plausible that the president was merely being theatrical, using the backdrop of senior military leaders, bedecked with medals and ribbons, to stir up some mischief. Mr. Trump grinned as he spoke, while the commanders stood next to him stoically. Several aides said afterward they had no idea to what he was referring.
Mr. Trump has made a point of saying that he will not telegraph military operations, in the Middle East or East Asia.
The president also faces an Oct. 15 deadline to recertify a nuclear weapons deal with Iran, which was negotiated under former President Barack Obama. The president is expected to decline to recertify the agreement, which would essentially allow Congress to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions.
Backing out of this deal could cause problems with other world powers who are party to it, at a tense time with another nation aspiring to build nuclear weapons: North Korea.
In his remarks to senior military leaders before the dinner, Mr. Trump outlined the challenges facing the United States.
“We have had challenges that we really should have taken care of a long time ago, like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, ISIS and the revisionist powers that threaten our interests all around the world,” Mr. Trump said, using the acronym for the Islamic State. “Tremendous progress has been made with respect to ISIS, and I guess the media is going to be finding out about that over the next short period of time.”
(SL) – It was all good 10 months ago. Donald Trump hasn’t been in office a year but has managed to tweet the United States to the brink of Nuclear War with North Korea.
How likely is WW III? A general consensus is that Trump’s statements are just bluster, although many emphasize the fact that bluster has an unfortunate history of leading to war.
The new escalation is the latest in an ongoing ratcheting up of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, and came after a report that claimed North Korea had developed nuclear weapons small enough that they could be flown all the way to the US mainland and detonated there.
Trump threatened Fire and Fury like no other if North Korea stepped to the U.S. or any of its allies, but then he refreshed his threat on twitter writing that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded”and ready to take action against the isolated country if it continues to “act unwisely.”
“Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” Trump said in provocative comments directed at the leader of a nation that, in open defiance of the United Nations, has been developing nuclear weapons capable of reaching the United States.
The Washington Post went on to report, as Trump continued his bellicose rhetoric — a tactic criticized by some U.S. leaders and allies — North Korea kept up its verbal salvos, as well. A commentary in a state-run newspaper said that the “U.S. military warmongers are running amok” and warned that “the U.S. and its vassal forces will dearly pay for the harshest sanctions and pressure and reckless military provocations.”
Trump claims that he is backed by everybody but that’s not true. The Washington Post reports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned that “verbal escalation” may be the wrong response to the crisis.
As for Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says, “We don’t accept a nuclear-powered North Korea,” in response to questions at a youth forum, but he added that the United States should take the first step away from conflict.
“I believe when it actually comes to a fight, the one that is stronger and smarter should take the first step away from the dangerous line,” Lavrov said.
An editorial in China’s state-run Global Times said that Beijing should “prevent” the United States and South Korea from carrying out an attack designed to overthrow the North Korean government but that China should “stay neutral” in the event of a North Korean attack and U.S. retaliation
The threats by Trump come as North Korea has stepped up its threats against the United States, including warning of a potential missile launch landing near the U.S. territory of Guam.
Later Friday morning, Trump retweeted images from the U.S. Pacific Command that showed two Air Force B-1B bombers that it said had joined counterparts from the South Korean and Japanese air forces in the region.
The command’s tweet included the hashtag #FightTonight, more of a signal of its readiness to fight if needed than a sign it is spoiling for a battle within days. The Air Force has kept bombers on Guam for years, and the Pentagon and U.S. Forces Korea have long used the “fight tonight” motto in South Korea to reflect the seriousness of their mission.
Why Guam? The Independent sums it up best saying, It has been a significant military outpost for America since he Second World War and reportedly holds around 6,000 troops, the Anderson Air Force Base and the Naval Base Guam. The island is referred to by military commanders as their “permanent aircraft carrier”.
The military bases have rotations of B-1, B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers, as seen in the above graphic, created for The Independent by statistics agency Statista, and include a submarine squadron.
It is also armed with a defense system that can intercept missiles, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).
(SL) – The half-brother of North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un was in the busy Kuala Lumpur airport terminal heading back home to Macau on Feb. 13th when the two women approached him from behind and wiped what is believed to be a deadly nerve agent on his face.
Known as VX -a tasteless and odorless liquid with an amber-like color, it severely disrupts the body’s nervous system and is used as a nerve agent in chemical warfare.
A banned substance, authorities are trying to figure out how whoever gave the VX to the women got their hands on it; and if it came directly from North Korea Officials considering speculation is rampant that North Korea was behind the killing, particularly after Malaysia said Friday that VX had killed Kim. Experts say the oily poison was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory.
Someone also tried to break into the building where Jong Nam’s body is being held further leading to conspiracy theories that are looming.
Isolated North Korea has a long history of ordering killings of people it views as threats to its regime. Kim Jong Nam was not known to be seeking political power, but his position as eldest son of the family that has ruled North Korea since it was founded could have made him appear to be a danger.
Earlier this week, a high-level North Korean delegation arrived in Kuala Lumpur seeking custody of the body. North Korea opposed Malaysian officials even conducting an autopsy, while Malaysia has resisted giving up the body without getting DNA samples and confirmation from next of kin.
Malaysian officials have confirmed that the victim of the attack was Kim Jong Nam. North Korea, however, has identified him only as a North Korean national with a diplomatic passport bearing the name Kim Chol.
Kim Jong Nam was estranged from Kim Jong Un. He reportedly fell out of favor with their father, the late Kim Jong II, in 2001, when he was caught trying to use a fake passport to enter Japan for a visit to Tokyo Disneyland.
As for the Women, both have reportedly said they thought they were part of a prank TV show playing harmless tricks on unsuspecting passengers. Indonesian Siti Aisyah told authorities she was paid the equivalent of $90.
Siti nodded as her translator told her: “You are accused of murdering a North Korean man at the departure hall” of Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Vietnamese suspect doan Thi Huog spoke English telling the court, “I understand but I am not guilty,” after the murder charge was read. She looked briefly at the public gallery as she was led out and bowed her head.
The Pyongyang delegation is also seeking the release of a North Korean arrested in the case, 45-year-old Ri Jong Chol. Malaysia has not described his alleged role in the killing, and it was not clear if or when he could be charged.
Authorities are seeking seven other North Korean suspects, four of whom fled the country the day of Kim’s death and are believed to be back in North Korea. Others sought include the second secretary of North Korea’s embassy and an employee of North Korea’s state-owned airline, Air Koryo.
Kim Jong Nam is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau.
Both women were wearing bulletproof vests as they were escorted from the court to Kajang Prison. Each faces a mandatory death sentence if convicted.