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North Korea says it could reconsider Trump summit after cancelling Seoul talks

  • State news agency warns US over ‘provocative’ military exercises
  • Official says North Korea has no interest in ‘one-sided’ talks with US

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “North Korea threatens to cancel Trump summit over nuclear demands” was written by Julian Borger in Washington and Justin McCurry in Tokyo, for The Guardian on Wednesday 16th May 2018 07.51 UTC

North Korea has abruptly cancelled high-level talks with Seoul and threatened to pull out of a planned summit with Donald Trump if the US continues to insist on the regime giving up all of its nuclear weapons.

A North Korean official said the country had no interest in a summit with US if it was based on “one-sided” demands to give up nuclear weapons, according to state media.

Citing first vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s central news agency also said the fate of the US summit as well as bilateral relations “would be clear” if Washington speaks of a Libya-style denuclearisation for the North.

The statement added Trump would remain as a “failed president” if he followed in the steps of his predecessors.

“We will appropriately respond to the Trump administration if it approaches the North Korea-US summit meeting with a truthful intent to improve relations,” Kim said.

He added: “But we are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-US summit meeting.”

The statement came after North Korea cancelled a meeting with South Korean officials just two hours before it was due to start on Wednesday, in protest at joint US-South Korean military exercises, codenamed Max Thunder.

The drills, which began on Friday, involve about 100 warplanes from the US and South Korea, including eight F-22 stealth fighters and an unspecified number of B-52 bombers.

Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying that a B-52 bomber, which has yet to join the drills, may not participate, in what could be interpreted as a concession to Pyongyang.

But South Korea’s defence ministry said exercises will continue, saying they were strictly defensive in nature and designed to help pilots improve their skills.

Max Thunder is one of several annual exercises involving the US and South Korean military that are routinely condemned by the North as preparation for an invasion.

South Korea’s defence minister, Song Young-moo, was to hold an emergency meeting with Gen Vincent Brooks, the commander of US Forces Korea, to discuss the allies’ response to the North’s protest.

For North Korea, the presence of bombers in joint US-South Korea drills triggers painful memories of the 1950-53 Korean war.

According to US air force estimates, bombing raids by US B-29s caused more damage to North Korea’s urban centres during that conflict than that seen in Germany or Japan during the second world war, with the US dumping 635,000 tons of bombs on Korea compared with 503,000 tons during the entire Pacific war.

Baik Tae-hyun, a spokesman for South Korea’s unification ministry, described Pyongyang’s decision as “regrettable” and said it ran counter to the “spirit and purpose” of the Panmunjom declaration agreed by Kim and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, last month.

Baik urged the North to swiftly return to the talks but would not speculate on whether the North’s move would affect next month’s planned meeting between Kim and Trump.

KCNA said the manoeuvres represented a “flagrant challenge” to the joint declaration by Kim and Moon at a summit at the “truce village” of Panmunjom on the dividing line between their countries in April.

The two leaders agreed to completely “cease all hostile acts against each other in every domain, including land, air and sea, that are the source of military tension and conflict”.

The state department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said the US had not heard directly from North Korea about any second thoughts.

“What we have to go on is what Kim Jong-un has said before, that he understands and appreciates the importance to the United States of having these joint exercises,” Nauert said. “We have had no formal or informal notification of anything.”

“We will continue to plan the meeting.”

Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea national diplomatic academy in Seoul, said: “North Korea knows that cancelling the (Trump-Kim) summit would not be good for its own interests, and not good for US interests either. But the North Korean regime cannot accept US demands for denuclearisation without first receiving guarantees about its security. Let’s see what Trump does about this.”

In its complaint about the exercises, the Pyongyang regime described them as offensive war games targeting North Korea. A Pentagon spokesman, Col Rob Manning, said they were defensive.

US and South Korean officials had previously said that North Korea would accept joint military exercises in the run-up to the Trump summit.

The Panmunjom summit was supposed to have been followed by a meeting of senior officials from the two Koreas on Wednesday to implement a declaration agreed by Moon and Kim. The agenda included issues such as a formal end to the Korean war, denuclearisation and reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 conflict.

“The North Koreans know how to make an explicit threat. By their standards, this is pretty circumspect,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. “It could very well be a play for additional leverage or to see how the Trump team reacts.”

Mintaro Oba, a former state department expert on Korea, said in a tweet:

“The question is whether they’re willing to go so far as to go through with it, or whether they’re mainly trying to gain some leverage [and] test how much we want the summit.”

Meanwhile, satellite photos suggest that the North Korean leadership is so far following through on its promise to dismantle its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri.

Pictures published by 38 North, a website analysing Korean issues, several buildings around the mountain site have been razed in recent days.

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Prezzo in Salisbury cordoned off by police after man and woman fall ill

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Police have sealed off a restaurant in Salisbury and the surrounding area after two people were taken ill.


The ambulance service called officers to Prezzo, in High Street, at 18:45 BST following “a medical incident” involving a man and a woman.


A Wiltshire Police statement said it had cordoned off the area as a precaution while it established “what has led them to fall ill”.
A witness reported seeing a person in a a hazardous material suit attend.

(BBC)

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California to launch its ‘own damn satellite’

California is set to launch a satellite to track greenhouse gases, as former US Secretary of State John Kerry and island nation leaders warned that the world is far off course to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “California to launch its ‘own damn satellite’ to track greenhouse gases” was written by Emily Holden and Oliver Milman in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Friday 14th September 2018 20.49 UTC

California is set to launch a satellite to track greenhouse gases, as former US Secretary of State John Kerry and island nation leaders warned that the world is far off course to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced plans for the satellite on the last day of a climate change summit hosted by San Francisco, in a final rebuke to President Donald Trump’s denial of man-made warming.

“With science still under attack,” Brown said “we’re going to launch our own satellite, our own damn satellite, to figure out where the pollution is.” Brown said the satellite will help pinpoint the source of planet-warming emissions.

California will team up with Planet Labs, a company run by ex-Nasa scientists. The data collected, including on carbon dioxide emissions and methane leaks from oil and gas operations, could be made public as part of a partnership with the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund. The new project comes as Trump has proposed slashing Nasa climate research mission budgets. It is one of dozens of commitments of mixed significance unveiled by states, cities and businesses at the event.

Despite the optimism on show at the summit, Kerry said climate efforts must ramp up.

“I am going to tell the truth, and the truth is we are not anywhere near where we need to be with respect to the overall challenge of climate change,” said Kerry, who worked to secure the 2015 global Paris climate agreement under former president Barack Obama.

Kerry blasted Donald Trump for deciding to leave that deal, calling it “one of the single greatest acts of irresponsibility by a president of the United States anywhere at any time.”

Leaders of the countries already suffering most from sea-level rise and ocean acidification echoed Kerry’s concerns, saying that international action is slowing.

“The world has lost, all of us have lost, momentum since Paris in 2015. Although the rate of increase has slowed, we’ve not yet peaked our global emissions. But we must do so by 2020. We really cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Mia Mottley, prime minister of the Caribbean island nation of Barbados.

Mottley’s country is in the direct path of hurricanes that are growing in strength and may narrowly avoid a more direct hit from tropical storm Isaac this week.

The world is set to watch temperatures rise 3C above pre-industrial levels by the time a child born today is old, Mottley said, even if countries adhere to the goals they said.

Frank Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji, said countries need to speed their work.

“We all know that the levels of ambition in our national plans need to be ramped up because we are not on track to meet the targets of the Paris agreement,” Bainimarama said.

Former US vice-president Al Gore struck a more positive tone.

“We must do it. We can do it. I’m convinced ever more because of the success of this summit here in San Francisco that we will do it,” he said, reminding that the US has not technically left the Paris deal yet and that a new president could re-enter.

The warnings were at odds with the overall atmosphere of the summit.

On the eve of the gathering, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would make the state’s electricity supply carbon-free by 2045. A separate executive order by Brown is more sweeping, committing to net zero emissions across the entire California economy, also by 2045.

Other cities and regions from around the world have followed this with various pledges, with New York City promising $4bn to renewable energy and clean water and cities including Los Angeles, Tokyo, Honolulu, Oslo and Greater Manchester pledging to build energy efficient buildings or deploy fleets of electric buses.

A group of 29 philanthropists committed $4bn over five years to combat climate change, the largest such investment of its kind, while companies such as Ikea, Walmart and Unilever promised to reduce emissions through measures such as electrified trucks for deliveries and action to prevent deforestation in the tropics.

Jonathan Pershing, the State Department’s climate negotiator under Obama, said the summit brings hope to the climate cause.

“The story here is optimistic. The question here is does the optimism translate, and can this message get out globally,” Pershing said. “There is a good broad cross-section of people from around the world, but it’s just a few thousand people, and it’s a problem that’s going to require engagement by millions.”

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Christine Blasey accuses Kavanaugh of assault in letter to senator

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Update:Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who wrote the letter accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is going public with her story, saying she thought he might kill her. More to come.

‘I thought he might inadvertently kill me,’ said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California, to The Washington Post. ‘He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.’

A woman is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were in high school in the early 1980s, according to a source familiar with the allegations, which were relayed in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein earlier this summer.

CNN reports the letter details an incident when the woman, who has not come forward publicly, attended a party with Kavanaugh and others in a suburban Maryland home. Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has referred the letter to the FBI.

Kavanaugh physically pushed her into a bedroom, the accuser said. Along with another male, Kavanaugh locked the door from the inside and played loud music that the accuser said precluded successful attempts to yell for help.

Both men were drunk, she said, and Kavanaugh attempted to remove her clothes.

At one point, Kavanaugh was on top of her laughing as the other male in the room periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh held his hand over her mouth at one point, and she said she felt her life was inadvertently in danger.

She said she was able to leave the room and go into a hallway bathroom. After Kavanaugh and the other male began talking to others in the house, she went home.

There is no indication the woman reported the incident to law enforcement at the time, but she said she has received medical treatment regarding the alleged assault. The woman also declined to come forward publicly after sending the letter to Feinstein. The accuser’s name was redacted before Feinstein forwarded it to the FBI.

In a statement Friday, Kavanaugh denied the allegation.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” he said.

Kavanaugh testified for three days before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, where the issue was not raised. The Judiciary panel is scheduled to consider Kavanaugh’s nomination next Thursday, and the full Senate may vote on confirmation later this month.

The New Yorker first reported the details of the letter to Feinstein. The woman declined a request from the magazine for comment.

Old Article:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has said that she possesses a sensitive document about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and is referring the matter to the Justice Department.

In a statement she said:

“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said in a statement. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

The document in question is believed to be a letter detailing an interaction between an unnamed woman and Kavanaugh dating back to their time together in high school. 

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