Top News Stories for Today – Aug 10, 2017
Mattis’ very strong words for N Korea
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a stark warning to North Korea, redrawing the red line at any potential nuclear action, rather than just the threat of it. Mattis advised North Korea to “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”
“The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates,” Mattis said. Mattis also noted that President Trump, who on Tuesday threatened to meet any further North Korean nuclear activity with “fire and fury,” has “emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces” since taking office. CNN, The Washington Post, The Week
N Korea considering attack Guam
President Trump was apparently improvising Tuesday when he threatened North Korea would be “met with fire and fury” if its nuclear threats against the US continued. The New York Times revealed Wednesday that Trump, who was in a “bellicose mood” just before he delivered the threat, had not prepared his remarks ahead of time, nor had he “run the specific language” by his advisers.
Shortly after Trump’s threat, North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA reported that leader Kim Jong Un is considering a missile attack on Guam, a US territory in the Pacific. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to reassure Americans that there is no “imminent threat” from North Korea. “Americans should sleep well at night,” Tillerson said. The New York Times, Politico, The Week
FBI raided Paul Manafort’s home in July
In the early morning hours of July 26, FBI agents raided the Alexandria, Virginia, home of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman. The Washington Post revealed Wednesday that authorities arrived “without advance warning” to “seize documents” related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump team’s potential ties to Russia.
The day before, Manafort had met voluntarily with Senate Intelligence Committee staff. Though he’d also previously voluntarily turned over documents, Mueller’s team apparently “had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.” Manafort’s spokesperson confirmed the raid in a statement, maintaining that Manafort “has consistently cooperated with law enforcement.” The Washington Post, ABC News
Kenyan president leads after election
Kenya held national elections on Tuesday, pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, against main opposition leader Raila Odinga and six other candidates. According to preliminary results, Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding president, held a significant lead over Odinga, 72, with the other candidates barely registering.
If the results hold, with Kenyatta leading 54.5 percent to Odinga’s 44.6 percent, the president would win a second term outright, without a second round of voting. On Wednesday, Odinga claimed that the results had been tampered with. “Hackers gained entry into our election database” and “created errors,” Odinga said at a news conference. “The 2017 general election was a fraud.” Kenyans fear a repeat of the violence a decade ago that followed a disputed election, which Odinga lost, ending in more than 1,100 Kenyans dead and 600,000 more displaced. BBC News, The Associated Press
Trump escalates war with Mitch McConnell
President Trump responded Wednesday to criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), two days after McConnell vented about the president’s inexperience. “Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before,” McConnell said Monday. “I think [Trump] had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
Trump hit back on Twitter, disagreeing with McConnell on the realism of his expectations: “After seven years of hearing [the GOP promise to] repeal and replace [ObamaCare], why not done?” Trump wrote. Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino Jr. also knocked McConnell for his “excuses.” “This is stunning,” Politico wrote. “Mitch McConnell is the lynchpin to whatever Donald Trump wants to get done on Capitol Hill.” Politico, Theweek
US diplomats in Cuba possibly attacked by secret sonic weapons
Several US diplomats had to leave Havana last year after they mysteriously started to lose their hearing, and officials said an advanced sonic weapon is to blame, The Associated Press reports. The hearing loss began in the fall of 2016, and a US investigation determined that the diplomats had been attacked by a weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound and was covertly placed either inside or outside their homes. Five diplomats were affected.
The US responded by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their Washington embassy on May 23, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, adding that investigators are looking into the possibility that a third party operating without Cuba’s knowledge, like Russia, could have deployed the weapons.
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