US Senate approves sanctions against N Korea
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 96-0 in favor of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, which targets North Korea’s ability to finance the development of nuclear warheads and long-range ballistic missiles.
Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida both left the campaign trail to return to Washington for the vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) chose to keep campaigning, but released a statement voicing his support for the sanctions, which he called “an important tool in resolving the growing threat from Pyongyang.
The legislation before the Senate would help prevent North Korea from obtaining goods or technology related to nuclear weapons, ban foreign assistance to any country that provides lethal military equipment to North Korea, and target the country’s trade in key industrial commodities.” The legislation comes after North Korea’s latest satellite launch. A similar bill was passed by the House of Representatives in January. CBS News
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday. “I leave the race without an ounce of regret,” Christie wrote on Facebook. “I’m so proud of the campaign we ran.” The governor was once considered a strong contender for the GOP nod, but he was never able to gain traction in a crowded Republican field, placing sixth in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also dropped out of the 2016 race via a Facebook post on Wednesday. The New York Times
Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders and outspoken Republican billionaire Donald Trump coasted to big victories in their respective party presidential primaries in New Hampshire on Tuesday, but the focus of the U.S. presidential campaign quickly moved to upcoming votes in South Carolina and Nevada. VOA
North Korea says South Korea’s decision to suspend operations at a jointly-run industrial complex amounts to “a declaration of war.”
The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea issued the warning in a statement released Thursday, its first response to Seoul’s decision Wednesday to shutdown operations at the Kaesong industrial park, located 10-kilometers across the border. South Korean workers began hauling equipment out of Kaesong early Thursday, well before Pyongyang’s statement.
The North ordered all South Korean nationals to leave the complex, said it was seizing all materials left behind and declared it a military zone. It also said it was cutting off all military communications with Seoul, including the hotline at the border truce village of Panmunjom. VOA
Russia’s United Nations envoy said Wednesday his government is not “about to be apologetic” for its airstrikes in Syria, which have been widely criticized for targeting the armed opposition instead of Islamic State terrorists.
“We are acting in a very transparent manner,” Vitaly Churkin told reporters after a closed session of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the escalating humanitarian situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo. “We are present there legally, at the invitation of the Syrian government,” he added.
Western governments have heavily criticized Russian airstrikes, which began in late September with the stated goal of diminishing Islamic State. Instead, the air campaign has dealt some crippling blows to the moderate armed opposition and led to the displacement of tens of thousands of Syrians. VOA
The last four holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon said Wednesday night that they plan to surrender Thursday morning, after FBI agents surrounded the refuge earlier Wednesday. All four armed occupiers face arrest on a federal charge of conspiracy for their roles in the takeover.
Also on Wednesday night, FBI agents arrested Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy led the Malheur occupation before their arrests, at the Portland airport. Bundy, who had said he was en route to the Malheur refuge to support the holdouts, was held on charges related to his 2014 armed standoff with federal agents after he refused to pay $1 million in federal grazing fees and penalties. The Oregonian
The Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday, citing a “pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
“The suit alleges officials in Ferguson use illegal practices in conducting stops, searches, and arrests; by using excessive force; and in discriminating against African Americans. The Justice Department is calling on the federal court to force Ferguson “to adopt and implement policies, procedures, and mechanisms that identify, correct, and prevent the unlawful conduct.” On Tuesday, the Ferguson City Council approved a revised version of a consent decree that was intended to fix problems in the police department and municipal court found during an investigation following the fatal officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014. The DOJ says the revisions to the consent decree will likely be challenged. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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