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South Korea: Summit With U.S. Likely Next Month

An unnamed South Korean presidential official tells Reuters that the summit would be held ahead of a proposed meeting with President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un expected in May or June.

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The U.S. and South Korea are likely to hold a summit next month ahead of a separate proposed summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that could come as early as next month.

That is according to remarks from an unnamed South Korean presidential official quoted by Reuters.

An inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Kim will be the third such meeting since the end of the Korea War in 1953. Two previous summits, in 2000 and again in 2007 were undertaken with high hopes of progress toward a lasting peace.

Meanwhile, President Trump, who has in the past referred to Kim derisively as “Little Rocket Man” and promised to respond to North Korean provocations with “fire and fury,” is sounding a more conciliatory tone ahead of the proposed summit.

Speaking of the summit, Trump said Tuesday, “We have been told directly that they would like to have the meeting as soon as possible. We think that’s a great thing for the world.”

“Kim Jong Un, he really has been very open and I think very honorable from everything we’re seeing,” Trump said alongside visiting French President Emmanuel Macron.

However, as The Associated Press notes, “Trump cautioned that North Korea had not followed through on previous promises, but credited tough steps from his administration – including sanctions and organizing pressure from international allies – for having forced Pyongyang to hold talks. And he again suggested that he would ‘leave the table’ if the negotiations were not productive or if North Korea was not operating in good faith.”

“We’ll see where that all goes,” the president said. “Maybe it will be wonderful or maybe it won’t.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.
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Person Who Flown With Biden In Recent Days Tests Positive For COVID-19

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(ABC News) — The Biden campaign has announced that someone who flew with former Vice President Joe Biden to Ohio on Monday and Florida on Tuesday has tested positive for COVID-19. The positive result was discovered through the contact tracing that the campaign undertook following the positive diagnosis of Sen. Kamala Harris’ communications director and a non-staff flight crew member.

“Around noon on Thursday, October 15th, we learned – as part of our contact tracing of the crew member on Senator Harris’ plane that tested positive for COVID last night – that an administrative member of the Aviation company that charters Vice President Biden’s aircraft tested positive for COVID-19,” Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon wrote in a statement.

However, the campaign says that Biden and the member who tested positive did not have any passing or close contact during the flight and he is not required to isolate.

“Vice President Biden was not in close contact, as defined by the CDC, with this individual at any time. In fact, the Vice President did not even have passing contact: this individual was over 50 feet from VP Biden at all times, entered and exited the aircraft from a rear entrance, and both the individual and the Vice President wore masks for the entire flight. Given these facts, we have been advised by the Vice President’s doctor and the campaign’s medical advisors that there is no need for the Vice President to quarantine,” she added.

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US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell States Senate Has Enough Votes To Confirm Amy Coney Barrett As Supreme Court Justice

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(The Guardian) — The Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said he has the votes to confirm the nomination of conservative Amy Coney Barrett as a supreme court justice as the upper chamber’s judiciary committee scheduled a vote for 22 October to advance the nomination towards a full Senate ballot shortly after.

Barrett’s progression towards taking up the seat vacated by the death of the liberal favorite Ruth Bader Ginsburg now appears virtually assured, but the unprecedented nomination of a new justice so close to a presidential election – and one who will shift the balance of the court rightward – has been contentious.

Barrett raised alarm among Democrats at her confirmation hearings this week for taking an agnostic view on the legality of voter intimidation and on the question of whether a president might unilaterally delay an election, neither of which in the view of experts is a close legal call.

Barrett likewise declined to say whether she would recuse herself from any case that might reach the supreme court that could help decide the November election – though Donald Trump has made clear that one reason he wants her on the court is to help him prevail in such a scenario.

Democrats on the judiciary committee, who are in the minority and who signaled on Thursday that they were out of tools and tactics to stop the Barrett nomination from advancing, additionally expressed concern that Barrett refused to say whether she accepted the science of climate change. She also appeared poised to help vacate the Affordable Care Act and left open the possibility that the watershed Roe v Wade ruling protecting reproductive rights might be overturned.

But with a 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate, McConnell expressed optimism that his caucus would be able to overcome Democratic objections and make Barrett Trump’s third supreme court justice to be installed in just four years. The last president to install justices so quickly was Ronald Reagan, who saw three justices confirmed during his second term in the late 1980s.

“We have the votes,” McConnell told reporters.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have signaled that they would not back the Barrett nomination, out of concern that it fell too close to a presidential election.

But the rest of the Republicans have fallen in line, including those who objected to a Barack Obama nominee in March 2016 on the grounds that the nomination fell too close to an election being held eight months later.

“This goose appears to be cooked,” Senator Cory Booker, a Democratic member of the judiciary committee, said during deliberations on Thursday preceding witness testimony.

The increasing regularity with which supreme court confirmations were achieved under unusual circumstances pointed to the corrosive presence of outside influences that had hijacked the process for their own purposes, said committee member Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a Democrat.

Whitehouse said the refusal by the same committee to consider the Obama nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, and the subsequent refusal by the committee to credit substantial sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second nominee, pointed up the deterioration of the process.

He warned that a return to bipartisan comity on the question of future supreme court questions was difficult to envision.

“Republicans shouldn’t think that they will have any credibility if the shoe is on the other foot to come to Democrats and say, ‘Yeah, I know you can do that, but you shouldn’t’,” Whitehouse said.

“That credibility will die if they continue to proceed this way with this supreme court nomination.”

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Irish tourist accused of defacing Rome’s Colosseum

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An Irish tourist has been accused of vandalizing Rome’s Colosseum after security staff spotted him allegedly carving his initials into the ancient Italian structure.

The Carabinieri police said the 32-year-old man was caught by the Colosseum’s private security on Monday and immediately reported to officers.

The man’s two initials, about 6 centimeters (2 inches) high, were said to have been carved with a metal point on a pillar of the first floor of the 2,000-year-old monument.

The Colosseum, considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world, is a World Heritage Site, along with 54 other Italian sites that comprise the city’s historic center.

The unnamed man is accused of damaging a historical and artistic landmark, the Carabinieri confirmed to CNN, a crime according to Italian law. He could face a hefty penalty if convicted.

The crime is punishable with up to one year in prison or a fine of no less than 2,065 euros ($2,400).

“The Colosseum, like any monument that represents the history of all of us, must be preserved and handed over to future generations,” archaeologist Federica Rinaldi, responsible for the ancient Roman amphitheater, said to CNN.

Back in 2014 a Russian tourist was fined 20,000 euros for carving the letter “K” on a section of brickwork.

Construction on the Colosseum, believed to be the largest amphitheater in the world, began sometime between 70 and 72 CE under the Flavian emperors. It seated around 50,000 spectators who came to watch gladiators in combat with each other and dangerous animals.

“It is a monument that deserves everyone’s respect because it belongs to everyone, and it must remain so,” Rinaldi said.

“Carving one’s initials, in addition to being a crime, seems to be a gesture of those who want to appropriate the monument. Better take a selfie!”

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