AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT
Posted by wtopstaff on 10th August 2017
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North Korea outlines plan to launch missiles toward Guam

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Thursday announced a detailed plan to launch a volley of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers, and dismissed President Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” if it doesn’t back down.

The announcement, made in the name of a general who heads North Korea’s rocket command, warned the North is preparing a plan to fire four of its Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny island, which hosts 7,000 U.S. military personnel on two main bases and has a population of 160,000.

It said the plan could be finalized within a week or so and would then go to leader Kim Jong Un for approval. It would be up to Kim whether the move is actually carried out. It said the missiles would hit waters 30 to 40 kilometers (19 to 25 miles) away from the island.

It is unclear whether North Korea would risk firing missiles so close to U.S. territory, which could provoke countermeasures and further escalation.

North Korea frequently uses extremely bellicose rhetoric with warnings of military action to keep its adversaries on their heels. It generally couches its threats with language stating it will not attack the United States unless it has been attacked first or has determined an attack is imminent.

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What next for North Korea, Guam and Trump? Experts weigh in

SAN JOSE, California (AP) — Threatening language between the U.S. and North Korea is flaring this week. After President Donald Trump vowed to respond with “fire and fury” if Pyongyang continued to threaten the U.S., the North’s military said it is finalizing a plan to fire four midrange missiles to hit waters near the strategic U.S. territory of Guam.

Below, North Korea experts reached Wednesday in the U.S. discuss the gravity of the moment and where both countries, and the world, could go from here:

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CLOSER TO THE BRINK, TALKS ESSENTIAL

Srinivasan Sitaraman, political scientist at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts:

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:

1. PYONGYANG RATCHETS UP RHETORIC

North Korea answers Trump’s threats of “fire and fury,” with one of Kim Jong Un’s generals saying the country is “about to take” military action near Guam.

2. US EXPELS 2 CUBAN DIPLOMATS AFTER INCIDENT IN CUBA

U.S. officials believe that a covert sonic device left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss.

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Trump hits McConnell for Senate crash of Obama health repeal

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump scolded his own party’s Senate leader on Wednesday for the crash of the Republican drive to repeal and rewrite the Obama health care law, using Twitter to demand of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “Why not done?”

Trump fired back at the Kentucky Republican for telling a home-state audience this week that the president had “not been in this line of work before, and I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”

The exchange came less than two weeks after Senate rejection of the GOP effort to scuttle President Barack Obama’s health care law, probably McConnell’s most jolting defeat as leader and Trump’s worst legislative loss. The House approved its version in May, but its Senate failure — thanks to defecting GOP senators — marked the collapse of the party’s attempt to deliver on vows to erase Obama’s statute it’s showcased since the law’s 2010 enactment.

“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so,” Trump tweeted. “After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”

Trump had repeatedly used Twitter to pressure McConnell to find the votes to approve the health care bill, even saying hours after its failure that GOP senators “look like fools.”

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Hearing loss of US diplomats in Cuba blamed on covert device

WASHINGTON (AP) — The two-year-old U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what U.S. officials say was a string of bizarre incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device.

In the fall of 2016, a series of U.S. diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case. Several of the diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of former President Barack Obama’s reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Some of the diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose.

The U.S. officials weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington on May 23. She did not say how many U.S. diplomats were affected or confirm they had suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had “a variety of physical symptoms.”

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FBI agents searched former Trump campaign chair’s home

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI agents looking for financial documents have searched one of the homes of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whose past foreign political work has been swept into the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. A Manafort spokesman confirmed the search Wednesday.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement that FBI agents had obtained a warrant and searched one of Manafort’s homes, but he would not say when the search occurred or what it was for.

“Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” Maloni said.

The Associated Press has learned the warrant for the search on July 26 at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, sought information including tax documents and banking records. The Washington Post first reported the raid.

Manafort has been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. That investigation has been incorporated into the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also scrutinizing Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign as he looks into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with Trump associates.

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Science Says: Trump team garbles climate science

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and his cabinet often avoid talking about the science of climate change, but when pressed what they have said clashes with established mainstream science, data and peer-reviewed studies and reports.

Even the federal government’s own reports — including a draft science study for the National Climate Assessment obtained this week by The Associated Press and other media — paint an entirely different reality than what’s coming from the Trump Administration.

COOLING and HOAX

President Trump has not talked directly about the science since taking office, but on the Hugh Hewitt radio show in 2015 he said: “I’m not a believer in man-made global warming. It could be warming, and it’s going to start to cool at some point. And you know, in the early, in the 1920s, people talked about global cooling.” And in a now famous social media post, Trump tweeted in 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

The usual talking point among non-scientists is that in the 1970s — not 1920s — experts thought the world was cooling. University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd calls this a “zombie myth” long disproven but somehow still sticking around. Scientists looked at peer-reviewed literature between 1965 and 1979 and found only seven papers talking about global cooling, 20 neutral and 44 implying global warming, according to a 2008 analysis in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

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US oil industry pushes back on sanctions against Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Trump administration’s decision on Wednesday to slap sanctions on eight members of Venezuela’s all-powerful constitutional assembly brings to 30 the number of government loyalists targeted for human rights abuses and violations of democratic norms since anti-government protests began in April.

But even as the list of targeted individuals grows longer, promised economic sanctions have yet to materialize amid an outcry by the U.S. oil industry that a potential ban on petroleum imports from Venezuela — the third-largest supplier to the U.S. — would hurt U.S. jobs and drive up gas costs.

The sanctions announced Wednesday focused on current or former Venezuelan government officials accused by the U.S. of supporting President Nicolas Maduro’s creation of a special assembly charged with rewriting Venezuela’s constitution — a move the U.S. says is an attempt by Maduro to shore up his grip on power.

Since its election last month, the 545-member assembly has declared itself superior to all other government institutions and ousted Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, a vocal critic of Maduro.

The U.S. Treasury Department took the unusual step of sanctioning Maduro himself last month, freezing any assets he may have in the U.S. and blocking Americans from doing business with him.

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Mom says she didn’t want incident to define Swift’s life

DENVER (AP) — Taylor Swift’s mother and confidante took the witness stand Wednesday, saying she and her daughter’s managers had told the bosses of a disc jockey accused of groping the singer-songwriter that they hoped he would be fired but didn’t ask them to do so.

Andrea Swift said during her emotional testimony at a civil trial in federal court in Denver that she had no doubt about what happened during a pre-concert photo op, based on a conversation with her daughter.

“She said, ‘Mom, a guy just grabbed my ass.’ … She was really shaken. She was humiliated,” a tearful Andrea Swift told jurors.

Andrea Swift is a co-defendant in the lawsuit filed by David Mueller.

Mueller’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland, asked why Swift’s team didn’t contact police.

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Spieth feeling relaxed as he chases history at Quail Hollow

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jordan Spieth already has shown a remarkable sense of the moment.

He earned his PGA Tour card by holing a bunker shot on the 18th hole and winning a playoff. In the final round before the Presidents Cup selections, he shot 62 while playing with Phil Mickelson, who told U.S. captain Fred Couples, “Dude, you’ve got to pick this guy.” And right when it looked as though Spieth might throw away another major, he nearly made an ace and followed that with an eagle on his way to winning the British Open.

That was his third major, and it brought Spieth, newly 24, to the grandest moment of all.

No one has ever won the career Grand Slam at a younger age. No one has ever completed it at the PGA Championship.

Spieth has never appeared more relaxed.

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