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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    North Korea Kim Jong-nam

    • Chinese authorities reportedly caught North Korean assassins trying to kill Kim Jong Un's nephew, Kim Han Sol.
    • Because North Korea is ruled by the Kim Dynasty, any living heirs pose a threat to Kim Jong Un's leadership of North Korea.
    • Authorities already believe Kim Jong Un had his half brother and Kim Han Sol's father, Kim Jong Nam, killed.


    Chinese authorities have reportedly blocked a plot from seven North Korean assassins to enter the country and kill Kim Han Sol, the son of Kim Jong Nam — Kim Jong Un's half brother who authorities allege was assassinated with a nerve agent at an airport in Malaysia.

    An anonymous source told South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo that North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau dispatched seven assassins to kill the 22-year-old Kim Han Sol, but Chinese authorities apprehended two of them and held them for questioning.

    The Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea for nearly 70 years, with Kim Jong Un most recently assuming power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. But Kim Jong Nam is Kim Jong Il's eldest son, and Kim Han Sol is Kim Jong Nam's eldest.

    North Korea's "forever leader" Kim Il Sung still technically rules the country, and only men of the Kim family can hold power since his death. Kim Jong Un fears external and internal plots to assassinate him or topple him as the head of North Korea, and having living males in his family presents somewhat-viable avenues to achieve that without massive war.

    After Kim Jong Nam's assassination, reports of a Chinese plot to replace Kim Jong Un with Kim Jong Nam surfaced. Kim Jong Un's uncle, who had deep ties to China, was himself killed by Kim Jong Un, reportedly in connection to this plot.

    Kim Jong Un family tree north korea kim dynasty

    Kim Han Sol publicly spoke out against his uncle after the death of his father in a YouTube video where he called the North Korean leader a "dictator."

    Currently, the US, China, and North Korea are in a standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, with one of the potential US options for solving the crisis being regime change.

    SEE ALSO: Witnesses say 4 men, now fugitives, changed clothes after killing Kim Jong Nam

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: North Korea exports $2.83 billion worth of goods — here's where it all goes


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    • Iraqi forces are bearing down on al-Qaim, one of the few remaining Islamic State-controlled areas in the country.
    • In 2014, ISIS forces overran Iraqi forces and declared the "caliphate" of the Islamic State.
    • With US and international help, Iraqi's have slowly but surely reclaimed their country from the terror group.

    Iraq Iraqi Security Forces Soldiers Flag RamadiIRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi forces have entered al-Qaim, one of the few remaining territories in the country still held by Islamic State militants, the Joint Operations Command said on Friday.

    Units from the Iraqi army, the Counter-Terrorism Services, Sunni tribal, and Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization forces are participating in an offensive to recapture al-Qaim and Rawa, two towns on the border area with Syria.

    Welcoming the offensive, the US-led international military coalition, which has run an air campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in both Syria and Iraq since 2014, said in a statement that approximately 1,500 Islamic State fighters were estimated to remain in the immediate vicinity of al-Qaim.

    Operations to clear the militants from their final strongholds in Iraq have continued, despite a concurrent military advance on Kurdish-held territory in the north.

    Iraq's central government launched an offensive on October 16 to seize disputed territories, claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds, in retaliation for a referendum on Kurdish independence held on September 25.

    In a lightning strike, central government forces swiftly recaptured large areas, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, from the Kurds, who had seized these areas when Islamic State swept across northern Iraq in 2014.

    On Thursday, Iraqi forces threatened to resume military operations against the Kurds, accusing them of delaying the handover of control of borders and taking advantage of negotiations to bolster their defenses.

    ISIS territory

    SEE ALSO: Trump leaves behind tax plan fight for the longest presidential trip to Asia in decades

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    NOW WATCH: A running coach explains the 2 most important activities runners should do to avoid knee pain


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    U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is framed by foliage as he arrives for a second appearance of the day during sentencing proceedings in his court martial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S., November 2, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Reuters) - The military judge hearing U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's desertion case was expected to announce a sentence on Friday for the soldier who endangered fellow troops by walking off his Afghanistan post in June 2009.

    Bergdahl, 31, faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in the politically charged case. Republican Donald Trump, during his successful campaign for the presidency last year, called Bergdahl "a no-good traitor who should have been executed."

    On Thursday, prosecutors asked Army Colonel Jeffery Nance to send Bergdahl to prison for 14 years for the hardships and injuries endured by service members ordered to search for him.

    Defense lawyers said the 31-year-old Idaho native, who experts testified has several mental health conditions, should be spared confinement because he already spent five years suffering torture and neglect in Taliban captivity.

    Nance began deliberations on Thursday and said he would resume Friday morning. He is likely to announce a decision on Friday.

    The judge ruled earlier this week that Trump's comments had not influenced him nor affected Bergdahl's chances of a fair sentence, but said he would consider them a mitigating factor.

    "Retribution and punishment is not eye-for-an-eye," Captain Nina Banks, one of Bergdahl's lawyers, said during closing arguments on Thursday at the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina. "Sergeant Bergdahl has been punished enough."

    Major Justin Oshana, a prosecutor, said there was no dispute that Bergdahl suffered terribly during his captivity. But so had the service members who risked their lives during hasty search-and-rescue missions, Oshana said.

    "He would not have been in that position if not for his own choice," the prosecutor said.

    In addition to prison time, the government said Bergdahl should be demoted to the lowest level of private before his punitive discharge from the Army. Defense lawyers asked that the soldier receive a dishonorable discharge.

    Bergdahl was released in a 2014 Taliban prisoner swap brokered by the Democratic Obama administration and remains on active duty at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

     

    (Reporting by Greg Lacour; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

    SEE ALSO: Iraqi forces are in their final push to totally eliminate ISIS from the country

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    NOW WATCH: Here's what that square patch on your backpack is actually used for


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    • Devin Patrick Kelley, the suspected gunman behind the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, had committed felonies that should have kept him from buying a gun.
    • Kelley had been dishonorably discharged from the military after being court-martialed after a count of assault on his spouse and one on his child.
    • Both felony charges and domestic violence charges should legally prohibit someone from buying a gun.

    Devin PatrickDevin Patrick Kelley, the man authorities suspect killed 26 and injured 20 in the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, should have been prohibited from buying a gun under US law.

    A former airman with the US Air Force, Kelley, received a dishonorable discharge from the military, after charges of assault against his spouse and child led him to be court-martialed.

    Military members dishonorably discharged cannot legally purchase a gun, but somehow Kelley managed.

    Furthermore, Kelley's assault against his wife and child likely qualify as domestic violence, which also legally disqualifies a citizen from gun ownership.

    On the federal government's firearm transaction record, which buyers must legally fill out, Kelley would have had to state that he had never been convicted of a felony. Both Kelley's assault counts likely went down as felonies. Lying on the firearms transaction record is an additional felony punishable by up to five years in jail.

    Kelley bought a Ruger AR-556 rifle, used in the attack on the church in Sutherland Springs, in April 2016 from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio, a law enforcement official told CNN.

    The purchase of the gun took place two years after Kelley had been court-martialed, imprisoned, most likely charged with multiple felonies, and dishonorably discharged from the military.

    Wearing black tactical-style gear and carrying that rifle, Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire on the churchgoers.

    "You've got your pews on either side. He just walked down the center aisle, turned around and my understanding was shooting on his way back out," said Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr., whose territory includes Sutherland Springs. Tackitt added that there was likely "no way" for churchgoers to escape after the shooting started.

    The victims of the shooting range from five to 72 years of age. Kelley fled the scene when confronted by armed citizens who he then led on a high-speed chase. Authorities found Kelley dead from gunshot wounds in his car several miles from the scene. 

    SEE ALSO: What we know about Devin Kelley, the suspect in the Sutherland Springs church shooting

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    • The women suspected of murdering Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, have been seen on video meeting with a North Korean official after the killing.
    • The official worked at North Korea's embassy and Air Koryo, North Korea's national airline.
    • North Korea denies a role in the killing, and the women maintain they were duped into pulling off what they thought was a prank for a reality TV show.

    Kim Jong Nam Assassin Suspect LOLKUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - An North Korean embassy official and a manager of Air Koryo, the national airline, met suspects wanted for the killing of Kim Jong Nam shortly after the murder, according to video recordings shown at the trial in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

    Two women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam, and four men who are still at large, have been charged in the murder of the half-brother of the country's leader, using banned chemical weapon VX at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13.

    Defense lawyers have said Siti Aisyah and Huong were duped into thinking they were playing a prank for a reality TV show.

    The four suspects, who were caught on airport camera talking to the women before they attacked Kim Jong Nam, were identified as North Koreans for the first time on Monday, a month since the trial began.

    Three of them were seen meeting a North Korean embassy official and the Air Koryo official, both unidentified, at the main airport terminal within an hour of the attack, lead police investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz told the court.

    North Korea has vehemently denied accusations by South Korean and U.S. officials that Kim Jong Un's regime was behind the killing.

    Kim Jong Nam, who was living in exile in Macau, had criticized his family's dynastic rule of NorthKorea and his brother had issued a standing order for his execution, some South Korean lawmakers have said.

    Footage played in the courtroom showed the Air Koryo official helping the three suspects at an airport check-in counter. He was later seen arranging a flight ticket for the fourth suspect too, Wan Azirul said.

    Wan Azirul identified the men as North Koreans Hong Song Hac, Ri Ji Hyon, Ri Jae Nam and O Jong Gil, citing intelligence findings by the special branch of the Malaysian police.

    Wan Azirul said he investigated and took statements from both the embassy and the Air Koryo official.

    "They explained that the reason they were there was to assist every North Korean individual or citizen who boarded a flight to leave the country," he told the court.

    Kim Jong nam

    The North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur did not respond to Reuters' telephone calls and emails to seek comment.

    The sensational murder unraveled once-close ties between Malaysia and North Korea.

    Malaysia was forced to return Kim Jong Nam's body and allow the return home of three North Korean men wanted for questioning and hiding in the Kuala Lumpur embassy, in exchange for the release of nine Malaysians stuck in Pyongyang.

    Wan Azirul said police intelligence also provided information on a fifth suspect identified as Ri Ji U, who was also "suspected to have the real name James", based on images and photographs taken from Siti Aisyah's phone.

    SEE ALSO: China reportedly caught North Korean assassins plotting to kill Kim Jong Un's nephew

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    NOW WATCH: Everything we know about the mysterious SR-72 — Lockheed Martin's successor to the fastest plane ever


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    • President Donald Trump promised on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's behalf that Japan would shoot down North Korean missile tests that overfly his country.
    • Japan has several missile-defense platforms that could knock down a North Korean missile test, but it's easier said than done.
    • Abe is hawkish for a Japanese leader, but Trump has consistently overestimated the efficacy of missile defense and taken the most aggressive line towards North Korea. 

    trump abePresident Donald Trump said Japan will buy more US military equipment and take down North Korean missile tests that overfly the country. 

    "He will shoot them out of the sky when he contemplates the purchase of a lot of military equipment from the United States," Trump said alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference. 

    "The Prime Minister of Japan is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should," Trump said.

    Trump had been questioning for some time Japan's handling of North Korean missile tests and asked why a nation of samurai warriors would not shoot down missiles overhead, according to sources that spoke to the Japan Times.

    North Korea has tested long-range missiles by overflying Japan and recently tested what it called a hydrogen bomb.

    Japan operates US-built missile defense systems both on land and aboard its navy's ships, but the intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICMB) tested by North Korea fly with such velocity that intercepting them remains a challenge, even for the most advanced platforms.

    Japan has not previously attempted to shoot down North Korean missile overflights, nor has the US. With limited warning beforehand and missile defense not a foolproof solution, experts remain split on the wisdom of attempting to shoot down test launches.

    While destroying a North Korean missile test in flight would rob Pyongyang of valuable test flight data, if the intercept attempt failed, it would erode the credibility of US and allied defenses.

    japan patriot missile

    Japan recently reelected Abe, the country's most militarily assertive leader in decades, but Trump's hawkishness on North Korea surpasses Abe's and perhaps even the capabilities of his own military.

    Trump previously said that US missile defenses can knock down North Korean missiles "97% of the time," despite the fact that only in watered-down test settings can missile interceptors achieve that degree of success.

    In war fighting conditions, experts assess that the US, or allies using US-designed systems, would struggle to down ICBMs, and may prove essentially ineffective against salvos of multiple missiles. 

    SEE ALSO: South Korea warns North Korea is readying more tests after threatening to nuke the Pacific

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    Trump South Korea Moon

    • President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In both indicated they would take steps to boost their missile offense and defense.
    • But Trump's speech lacked his signature threats and focused more on diplomatic pushes.
    • The fiery rhetoric of Trump's early presidency may have faded, giving way to a more coherent, peaceful North Korea policy.


    After months of threats flying back and forth between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a clearer picture of Trump's policy towards Pyongyang has emerged on his trip to Seoul.

    At a joint press conference on Tuesday with South Korea's President Moon Jae In, there was a key news line about South Korea's missile capability, but also a taste of Trump the diplomat. 

    The US and South Korea have long maintained an arms control treaty whereby the payload of Seoul's missiles cannot exceed 1,100 pounds, but now the leaders have scrapped that so Moon can presumably approve the manufacture of more menacing missiles to threaten North Korea with.

    Back at home, Trump had just asked Congress for an additional $4 billion in funding for a range of missile defense interceptors for the express purpose of defending against a North Korean missile attack.

    Both leaders affirmed their commitment to continuing the joint military exercises that North Korea considers a rehearsal for the invasion and deposing of Kim, but Trump's speech conspicuously lacked something — his signature threats.

    Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense Mattis all arguably took a more militaristic line towards Pyongyang than Trump did during their separate trips to South Korea.

    Along with Moon, Trump's speech only briefly touched on military readiness and cooperation and spent more time offering a vision of peace with North Korea.

    Foal Eagle 2015

    While Moon said South Korea is "willing to offer North Korea a bright future," Trump implored the audience to "imagine the amazing possibilities for a Korean Peninsula liberated from the threat of nuclear war where all Koreans can enjoy the prosperity that you have enjoyed right here in South Korea."

    Instead of threatening Pyongyang, Trump called on "every responsible nation, including China and Russia," to "act with urgency and with great determination" and implement the UN Security Council's resolutions that sanction and isolate North Korea economically. The diplomatic tone of Trump's speech, during which he stuck firmly to his script, could have been lifted from former President Barack Obama in years past. 

    Trump's new perspective on North Korea follows a revealing interview he gave to Sharyl Attkisson, in which he said he doesn't think Pyongyang will strike the US. While Trump touted the US as a "very very strong nation," he put stock in his relationship with China's President Xi Jinping, North Korea's main ally and trading partner.

    "I do believe that China, where I'm going very soon, and President Xi has been working. I really feel this. He's been working very hard to see if he can do something but we're going to see. But I think that estimate hopefully is extremely high," Trump told Attkisson.

    north korea missile test

    Additionally, Trump's National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster seemed to pour cold water on the idea that the US would unilaterally strike North Korea, telling South Korea's YTN news station that he found the prospect "unimaginable."

    "The President will consult with leaders across the region to understand better what more we can do to resolve this crisis short of war,"McMaster told South Korea's Hankyoreh of Trump's trip to South Korea, Japan, China, and Vietnam, where Trump may meet Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

    So with three US aircraft carriers in the Pacific and North Korea's Kim riled up from taunts of "little rocket man," a more subdued Trump may have revealed his grand strategy for handling North Korea: Speak loudly, speak to everyone, and carry a big stick. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump says 'samurai' Japan will shoot North Korean missile tests 'out of the sky' in the future

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The wives of El Chapo's henchmen reveal how they hid and spent $2 billion


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    muslim terror westminster attack

    LONDON (Reuters) - A project looking at links between mental health and terrorism in three English cities has been expanded nationwide after it found a significant number of people referred to counter-radicalization programs suffer some form of mental illness.

    Studies have suggested the prevalence of mental health issues among militants working together on major strikes is very low but a string of killings by so-called lone wolves has fueled concerns mental illness could be a factor behind some attacks.

    Authorities say some of those involved in four attacks in Britain this year blamed on Islamist militants appeared to people who had self-radicalized via the internet and whose mental state had been questioned.

    To look more closely at the issue, British police launched pilot programs in April last year in England's three biggest urban areas - London, Birmingham and Manchester - to embed mental health experts with counter-terrorism officers.

    The aim was to give psychiatrists the chance to identify people referred to Britain's counter-radicalization program Prevent who had mental health issues, and treat them.

    "Anecdotally, I am surprised that there appears to be a much higher prevalence of people with mental health problems than you would expect," said Professor Jennifer Shaw, the mental health lead for Greater Manchester Police, referring to the people her team had dealt with since the pilot was launched.

    The hubs are considered so successful by the government they have been expanded nationwide, Shaw, professor of forensic psychiatry at the University of Manchester, told Reuters.

    But such is the secrecy around the work of Prevent and Channel - a de-radicalization program within the overall project - there are few details about its successes or failings and Shaw's work has not previously been discussed in the media.

    Some psychiatrists argue that no scientific link between mental health issues and terrorist attacks has yet been established and they worry the programs risk stigmatizing people suffering from mental illnesses.

    Another psychiatrist gathering data under the pilot programs told Reuters that Britain's Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism had told them not to disclose any details of their findings ahead of a final report.

    Those findings are expected to be among a raft of data about people referred to Prevent due to be released this week.

    Britain's interior ministry did not respond to requests for comment. 

    'We want the facts'

    People look at floral tributes for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, in St Ann's Square, in central Manchester, Britain May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

    Dr Adrian James, registrar at Britain's Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), said the link between mental health problems and terrorist acts had not been established.

    He said a lack of evidence, partly because militant attacks were so rare, was at the heart of the problem, adding that an unnecessary level of secrecy about Prevent also meant many psychiatrists viewed the program with suspicion.

    "If it is true that there is a link, we need to know and then need to look at the causes of that and what we can do about them," James told Reuters. "We just want the facts."

    Past studies have disagreed about the significance of mental health issues among lone wolf attackers, with some academics concluding that such illnesses are blamed to try to explain often complex reasons for attacks.

    British police decided to launch the pilot programs because they believed that roughly half the 7,500 people referred to Prevent each year had a broad range of mental health and psychological difficulties.

    Those working on the pilot projects hope the information being gathered will now help experts assess any possible links between mental health issues and attacks.

    Shaw said determining who might be a potential attacker from mental health problems alone was not really feasible and fraught with problems, but she said it might be possible to ascertain the characteristics of people most likely to be at risk and ensure they got appropriate help.

    "That doesn't mean you can't manage the risks. Trying to nip it in the bud, that's all you can do. But that's good if you can achieve that, it's going a long way," said Shaw.

    Police officers say they have struggled in the past to reach medical practitioners when they had concerns about some people and Shaw said the pilot was designed to address those worries.

    According to one of Shaw's case studies, a man went to a hospital saying he monitored Islamic State websites, had been walking around the city center working out how many people he could kill in a gun attack, and wanted to behead his mother.

    Shaw's team discovered the man had no contact with mental health services and no diagnosis of any illness. An urgent assessment concluded his anger stemmed from experiences in his childhood and safeguarding measures were put in place.

    'Terrorist methodology'

    nyc truck attack halloween

    British police have no doubts about the importance of the work, especially given the global shift from carefully planned spectacular attacks by militant networks to unsophisticated, strikes by individuals using cars and knives as weapons.

    Mark Rowley, Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer, told the British Medical Journal in April that a disproportionate number of suspects in 13 attacks foiled by British police since 2013 had mental health issues.

    "If part of the terrorist methodology is to prey on the vulnerable ... then it stands to reason that there will be people with certain mental health conditions who will be ... susceptible to that," he said.

    "Radicalizing and inciting someone who is vulnerable to go and carry out some ghastly attack seems to be part of their tactics, and that has brought in a whole load of vulnerability issues, including mental health, that we now have to wrestle with," said Rowley.

    A study by University College London's (UCL) Department of Security and Crime Science looked at 55 attacks involving 76 individuals between May 2014 and September 2016 where reports had shown the perpetrators may have been influenced by IS.

    The study found 34 percent of those involved in attacks inspired by Islamic State - rather than actually directed by the militant group - had mental health issues.

    Health experts estimate about one in four people will suffer some form of mental health issue and those with mental illnesses are generally less likely to commit violent crimes than the overall population.

    Stigmatization concerns

    pills mental health

    Shaw said those with mental health issues and developmental disorders referred to her team at Prevent were more likely to be suffering from psychosis and autism, adding that people with serious mental illnesses often had tiny social networks.

    "They can therefore, when unwell, be influenced by messages that go out that say come and belong to our group. It can be quite compelling. The same for people with autism. The internet kind of way of getting the message out makes those people, particularly vulnerable. So I think that's a big issue."

    Psychiatrists worry that all people with mental health issues could be stigmatized and considered potential militants, possibly deterring them from seeking help.

    Prevent, one of the four strands of Britain's counter-terrorism strategy known as Contest launched in 2003, has also been dogged by claims it is used to spy on Muslim communities.

    A government edict in 2015 instructing public bodies such as schools, health workers and universities to raise any concerns they have about individuals with the authorities has exacerbated those concerns.

    Shaw acknowledged more work was needed on the outcomes of their mental health interventions under the Prevent pilot programs to determine what made a difference.

    Asked if people her team had treated might have committed violent acts if their conditions had not been addressed, she said: "That is the obvious question. You can't say that in any kind of scientific way.

    "We're attempting to try and get at that. Is it completely to do with their mental illness, half to do with it, or not at all?" said Shaw.

    "We have had cases where people have had ideologies, they have also had a mental health problem, and they are not linked at all. The last thing we need is 'all these bombers are nutters'. We don't want that going on."

    SEE ALSO: Disturbing details about the Texas church shooter are emerging, including charges of animal cruelty and harassing an underage girl

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    aircraft carrier

    • The US Navy technically has a whopping five aircraft carriers in the Pacific, but unlike other times when there were multiple carriers near North Korea, President Donald Trump isn't playing it up as much.
    • The US stretched the facts in April to say it had carriers headed to North Korea, but now that there really are carriers inbound, it has been quieter.
    • Trump seems more optimistic about a diplomatic solution with North Korea, and his relationship with China could be why.


    President Donald Trump headed to South Korea on Tuesday with a measured but resolved message for North Korea, while three US aircraft carriers loomed large in the waters nearby, and another two operated near the US's West Coast.

    Asked by journalist Sharyl Attkinson on her show, Full Measure, if the carriers' presence was a message to North Korea's Kim Jong Un, Trump was uncharacteristically restrained.

    "I don't know if it's a message," he said.

    In remarks alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in while in Seoul, Trump came off measured— though he did point out the three aircraft carriers and a nuclear submarine in the region, saying he hoped North Korea may look to "come to the table and make a deal" in light of the military pressure.

    In April, when North Korean missile tests regularly made headlines and troubled US allies in the region, the US rushed to make rare announcements of Navy deployments by saying two aircraft carriers were inbound when in fact they were hundreds of miles and weeks away.

    At the time, Trump warned he had sent an "armada" to North Korea. He also warned that if "China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!"

    Donald Trump and Xi Jinping

    Now the US has three aircraft carriers preparing for a giant maritime drill with a Japanese aircraft carrier and several guided-missile destroyers in tow, but Trump has chosen to play it in a different way.

    Previously, Trump seriously undercut his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's diplomatic efforts to negotiate with Pyongyang, saying the former Exxon executive was "wasting his time."

    The cause for Trump's swing in attitude may be China, North Korea's ally and biggest trading partner. Asked in the Attkisson interview his thoughts on China, Trump estimated an "extremely high" chance that Chinese President Xi Jinping would help the US against its ally in Pyongyang.

    "Ultimately it will all work out," Trump said before a military briefing near Seoul. "It always works out. It has to work out!"

    If by "working out" Trump means avoiding nuclear war, then he's correct — historically it always does work out. But his shift from aggression to optimism is telling.

    SEE ALSO: Trump signals a shift in South Korea — and it looks like his 'fire and fury' threats were just a bluff

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    NOW WATCH: Watch The US and South Korea show off their air force jets in a defense exhibition amid tensions with North Korea


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    thaad missile lockheed

    • President Donald Trump asked Congress for $4 billion to fund additional missile defenses against North Korea, but the record shows missile defenses don't really work.
    • Even though missile defense has a shoddy record, if the US even has a slim chance of blocking a North Korean attack, it will probably deter Kim Jong Un.
    • Trump's funding of a failing system may just be a big bluff, but it could work.


    President Donald Trump asked Congress for an additional $4 billion in defense funding to "detect, defeat, and defend against any North Korean" missile attacks on the US or its allies — and it may be part of a tremendous series of bluffs about US military capabilities.

    The Senate Armed Services Committee seemed warm to the idea, saying it would "welcome" the chance to discuss funding it, and that it "looks forward" to considering the "timely" suggestion.

    Trump's trip to Asia so far has functioned as a kind of sales pitch for US-made missile defenses, with the announcement that Japan would buy additional systems from the US.

    Before the trip, Trump told Fox News that the US could knock down North Korean missiles 97% of the time, though it appears he conflated favorable test results with estimates of real-world performance.

    According to myriad experts contacted by Business Insider, ballistic-missile defense doesn't really work. In 2016 the Union of Concerned Scientists published "Shielded from Oversight: The Disastrous US Approach to Strategic Missile Defense," detailing how the $40 billion ground-based midcourse-defense missile-interceptor system essentially was a waste of money with no tangible results.

    The US's "hit-to-kill" theory of defeating incoming missiles by slamming missile interceptors into them has been likened to "hitting a bullet with another bullet," in that it's nearly impossible even in test settings and almost unimaginably hard to do in the field against a determined enemy.

    But a mutual nuclear exchange between nations would devastate the world like never before and has never happened in history, so many of its parameters remain theoretical.

    Tong Zhao, a leading expert on North Korea at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Nuclear Policy Program in Beijing, previously explained the theories of nuclear deterrence to Business Insider, saying countries like North Korea have to look at the worst-case scenario.

    Kim Jong Un inspects the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14. The North Korean leader said the test completed his country's strategic weapons capability that includes atomic and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, the state KCNA news agency said.

KCNA/via REUTERS

    Basically, if there's even a 1% chance the US or an ally could shoot down a North Korean missile, then Pyongyang risks nuclear annihilation without gaining anything in return.

    According to Zhao, "the US will never allow [the North Koreans] to feel their deterrent is credible," by actively promoting systems like missile defense or cyber attacks.

    In that way, Trump's move to throw down another $4 billion on what experts agree is a failed concept may just be part of a magnificent bluff. Usually Trump criticizes expensive projects with low rate of success, but he appears to have taken a shine to ballistic-missile defense.

    North Korea knows the critics dismiss US ballistic-missile defense, but whether they're willing to call that bluff is a separate question.

    SEE ALSO: The US actually has 5 aircraft carriers in the Pacific — but Trump is wielding them in a different way

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    NOW WATCH: Watch the US Navy shoot down a medium-range missile in its latest test after North Korea launched a missile over Japan


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    • North Korea responded to President Donald Trump's speech in South Korea in which he warned Kim Jong Un not to underestimate the US's resolve.
    • North Korea doubled down on its promise to build nuclear weapons, despite international calls for it to stop.
    • The US maintains it will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.

    kim jong un


    Pyongyang has responded in its usual fiery fashion to President Donald Trump's speech to South Korea's National Assembly in which Trump warned North Korea not to test the US's resolve.

    Trump's speech focused largely on the long history of North Korea's human-rights abuses, though Trump departed from his past rhetoric by offering North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his people "a path to much better future" if the country abandoned its nuclear ambitions.

    But returning to typical form, Trump also brought up the US's victories over ISIS and its nuclear submarines in the region. Trump said misinterpreting the US's restraint for weakness would be a "fatal miscalculation" by North Korea, and he called on the international community to implement the UN's strict sanctions on Pyongyang.

    North Korean officials, who spoke with CNN about the speech, were not thrilled. "We don't care about what that mad dog may utter because we've already heard enough," they said.

    The officials reaffirmed North Korea's commitment to building nuclear weapons, bringing up the US's "nuclear aircraft carriers and strategic bombers" before promising to "counter those threats by bolstering the power of justice in order to take out the root cause of aggression and war."

    North Korean officials have repeatedly said they will not look to negotiate with the US until they complete their country's nuclear weapons program. At the same time, the US remains intent on preventing North Korea from perfecting a nuclear-equipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

    On Wednesday, Trump arrived in China to talk to President Xi Jinping, the most powerful Chinese leader since Chairman Mao, about North Korea among other things. China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, has been unusually helpful in the US's recent push to increase sanctions on Pyongyang.

    Trump expressed optimism in South Korea about the US's ability to bring North Korea to heel, and he previously said he expected China to pitch in considerably.

    SEE ALSO: The US actually has 5 aircraft carriers in the Pacific — but Trump is wielding them in a different way

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    • While President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping had friendly talks and photo ops, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson got down to business regarding the South China Sea.
    • China claims almost all of the vital shipping route as its own territory, but its neighbors dispute this. Trump has stepped up US Navy operations in the region to check this activity.
    • Things may heat up as the Philippines again looks ready to press China on its excessive maritime claims.

    GettyImages 871895834BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States and China had a frank exchange of views on the disputed South China Sea during a visit to Beijing by U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

    China claims almost the entire strategic waterway through which about $3-trillion worth of goods pass every year, building and militarizing artificial islands. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims.

    The issue is likely to feature prominently at two regional summits starting this week, one in Vietnam and the other in the Philippines, which Trump and several leaders will attend. Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the Vietnam meeting.

    "We had a frank exchange here in China on maritime security issues and the South China Sea. The U.S. position remains unchanged," Tillerson told reporters.

    "We insist on upholding freedom of navigation, that claimants be consistent with international law and that claimants should stop construction and militarization of outposts in order to maximize prospects for successful diplomacy," he added.

    Both Xi and Trump expressed support for the protection of peace and stability in the South China Sea, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the leaders' talks.

    Both leaders also support the peaceful resolution and management of the dispute via talks and in accordance with "accepted international law", it added.

    "Both sides support the protection of freedom of navigation and overflight for all countries, in accordance with international law," it said.The United States has angered China with freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea, which have been continued by the Trump administration.

    south china seas

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in an apparent policy shift, said on Wednesday he planned to ask China to make clear its intentions in the South China Sea, during Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Vietnam.

    Since coming to office 16 months ago, the firebrand leader has been conciliatory to Beijing, despite a ruling by an international arbitration court favoring the Philippines in its territorial dispute with China.

    In the past, Duterte has repeatedly said he will raise the sea dispute at the proper time and avoided the issue when Manila hosted two regional meetings this year.

     

    SEE ALSO: North Korea responds to 'mad dog' Trump saying nuclear program is a 'fatal miscalculation'

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    FILE PHOTO: Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks with reporters about the withdrawn Republican health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein Sen. Bob Corker said Wednesday he will hold a hearing next week looking at presidential authority to use nuclear weapons, in a move that seems targeted at President Trump.

    Mr. Corker, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee who has repeatedly tussled with Mr. Trump, said members of both parties have questioned what powers the president has to use nuclear weapons.

    Mr. Corker said it’s been more than four decades since Congress has looked at the issue, and it seemed the time was ripe.

    “This discussion is long overdue, and we look forward to examining this critical issue,” he said in a statement announcing the hearing, which will take place on Tuesday.

    Witnesses include the former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, a former Defense Department undersecretary who served in the Obama administration and worked for Senate Democrats, and a Duke University professor of political science.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea responds to 'mad dog' Trump saying nuclear program is a 'fatal miscalculation'

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    • Even though President Donald Trump has taken a more militaristic line against North Korea, it seems his top diplomats have worked out a road to peace talks.
    • North Korea has to tell the US they will stop testing missiles for 60 days, and then the US will engage in direct talks.
    • North Korea's last test was on September 15, so this is an imminently doable ask.


    Despite months of fiery rhetoric about "totally destroying" North Korea, it appears President Donald Trump's State Department has narrowed in on a plan for peace with Pyongyang.

    "It makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world,” Trump said on a recent trip to South Korea, striking a more optimistic and diplomatic tone than before.

    Joseph Yun, the State Department's top North Korea official, told the Council on Foreign Relations on October 30 that the US would resume direct dialogue with Pyongyang if it ceased missile tests for 60 days, sources told The Washington Post.

    North Korea last launched a missile on September 15, near the 60-day mark, but administration sources told The Post that launch didn't count, as North Korea had not previously agreed on a 60-day pause.

    But North Korea could easily meet the two-month limit and may have already been planning to. Shea Cotton, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, pointed out on Twitter that historically, North Korea hardly ever launches in the winter and late fall.

    In that sense, the 60-day freeze is a low bar for Kim Jong Un, who prefers to launch during the spring when the US and South Korea engage in their annual military drills.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated combination photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

    However, the 60-day freeze isn't all that's needed for peace, only a prerequisite for talks. Additionally, nothing guarantees that talks will turn into peace, as North Korea and the US hold totally opposite goals and views of how the talks should play out.

    North Korea wants the US to accept it as a legitimate nuclear-weapons state, like the US does with China, Russia, India, and others. The US wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons entirely.

    But neither side can find out where the other would make concessions unless they actually talk. Today, the US and North Korea talk through a diplomatic back channel and have no formal relations.

    Even formal meetings between officials could diffuse the record-high tensions that saw Kim and Trump exchanging nuclear threats over the summer.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea responds to 'mad dog' Trump saying nuclear program is a 'fatal miscalculation'

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    NOW WATCH: Watch The US and South Korea show off their air force jets in a defense exhibition amid tensions with North Korea


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    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One to depart for Vietnam from Beijing Airport in Beijing, China, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    • President Donald Trump just left China after a pleasant, uncontroversial visit.
    • But as soon as he landed in Vietnam, he slammed China on key issues.
    • China openly seeks to unseat the US as the most powerful influence in Asia.
    • Trump laid out some strategies to counter that, and played up intra-Asian disputes in ways that are sure to anger Beijing.


    President Donald Trump left China on Friday and arrived in Vietnam with a shocking change in tone.

    While in China, Trump actually gave credit to Chinese President Xi Jinping for its protectionist trade practices that Trump said it used to "take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens."

    Trump and Xi spoke little, if at all, about the South China Sea, a contentious point where China's view of its territory conflicts with international laws and the maritime claims of its neighbors.

    Instead the pair focused on signing largely non-binding trade agreements and overt displays of friendship.

    The gloves come off on trade

    Donald Trump vietnam

    But in Trump's first speech in Vietnam, the gloves came off.

    "When the United States enters into a trading relationship with other countries or other peoples, we will from now on expect that our partners will faithfully follow the rules," Trump said in Danang, Vietnam, implying some of the US's partners had bent the rules in the past.

    "We expect that markets will be open to an equal degree on both sides and that private investment, not government planners, will direct investment," perhaps nodding to China's recent announcement that it will open up its companies to more foreign investment.

    Trump's speech clashed with statements from Xi, who said on Friday that globalization was an irreversible trend. Though Xi has long advocated for free trade with the US and other countries, its own policies protect Chinese companies and put the Beijing's interest first, as Trump hinted at.

    Trump plays to the home crowd bashing Beijing's aggressive South China Sea policy

    south china seas

    Perhaps the sorest issue Trump touched on was the South China Sea, where he stressed the need to maintain "freedom of navigation and overflight, including open shipping lanes."

    Under Trump, the US Navy has increased freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea, whereby destroyers sail within miles of disputed islands to press the point that, though China may claim 80% of the vital shipping lane, the US does not recognize its unilateral claims.

    Trump even referenced "territorial expansion," a phrasing sure to irk the Beijing, which sees the South China Sea as it's historical territory. But in Danang, a resort town on Vietnam's coastline, the message was likely a hit as Vietnam is one of six nations that dispute who exactly the South China Sea belongs to. 

    Trump is coming for Xi's crown jewel

    trump xi china

    In another chop at China, Trump seemed to offer an alternative to Beijing's massive "one belt one road" infrastructure push, saying the US would "provide strong alternatives to state-directed initiatives that come with many strings attached."

    This likely referenced China's policy of extending huge loans and infrastructure projects to developing nations that cannot pay for them.

    In Sri Lanka, China built the world's emptiest airport for the island nation. Now the airport makes about $300,000 a year while Sri Lanka has to repay China $23.6 million for its investments. With no other options, Sri Lanka gave China control of its deepwater port in exchange for $1.1 billion in debt relief, according to the New York Times.

    The "one belt one road" project is a key factor in Xi's strategy to propel China onto the stage of world powers, and an element of "Xi Jinping Thought," or his recent enshrinement into China's constitution. A swipe at this program resembles a swipe at the man himself, who just yesterday Trump heaped praise on.

    But Trump has left Beijing, and is in Vietnam now, where China invaded in 1979.

    While Trump was happy to oblige China's goal of presenting a choreographed, harmonious visit, the US may now look to show its teeth on some of the bigger disputes in the bilateral relationship.

    After Vietnam, Trump will head to the Philippines, where its leader has asked Beijing to make its intentions clear on just what exactly it plans to do in the South China Sea.

    SEE ALSO: The deal for peace talks the Trump administration reportedly wants to offer Kim Jong Un

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    • Saudi Arabia was attacked by a ballistic missile fired from Yemen, but it intercepted the missile.
    • The missile was found to have Iranian markings.
    • This is just one of several beligerent acts between the two rivals in what looks like the run up to a larger crisis.

    A still image taken from a video distributed by Yemen's pro-Houthi Al Masirah television station on November 5, 2017, shows what it says was the launch by Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh's King Khaled Airport on Saturday, Houthi Military Media Unit via REUTERS TV     DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The ballistic missile fired by Yemeni rebels that targeted the Saudi capital was from Iran and bore "Iranian markings," the top U.S. Air Force official in the Mideast said Friday.

    Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, who oversees the Air Forces Central Command in Qatar, made the comments at a news conference in Dubai.

    Harrigian said authorities were investigating how the missile was smuggled into Yemen amid a Saudi-led coalition controlling the country's airspace, ports and borders.

    After the Nov. 4 strike near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry said investigators examining the remains of the rocket found evidence proving "the role of Iranian regime in manufacturing them." It did not elaborate, though it also mentioned it found similar evidence after a July 22 missile launch. French President Emmanuel Macron similarly this week described the missile as "obviously" Iranian.

    Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement Tuesday that the July launch involved an Iranian Qiam-1, a liquid-fueled, short-range Scud missile variant. Iran used a Qiam-1 in combat for the first time in June when it targeted Islamic State group militants in Syria over twin militant attacks in Tehran.

    Harrigian declined to offer any specifics on what type of missile they believed it was.

    SEE ALSO: Video shows US missile defenses thwarting Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia

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    U.S. President Donald Trump talks with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during the gala dinner marking ASEAN's 50th anniversary in Manila, Philippines November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    • President Donald Trump didn't press Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on human-rights issues in the Philippines, where thousands are believed to have been killed by the police in a raging drug war.
    • Instead, Trump praised Duterte and stressed that the two were friends.
    • Trump has a history of making nice with strongman leaders like Duterte, and it shows how his "America First" platform puts little emphasis on human rights.


    When President Donald Trump met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on the last leg of his trip to Asia, the pair "really hit it off," Duterte's communications secretary, Martin Andanar, told Reuters.

    "Upon the orders of the commander-in-chief of the United States," Duterte serenaded the world leaders at the Association of South East Asian Nations summit with a Filipino love song. Trump praised the summit as "very successful" and "handled beautifully" by Duterte.

    The two men reaffirmed their countries' alliance, which came under strain during Barack Obama's presidency, and parted as friends.

    At the same time, some things went unmentioned. Human-rights advocates would have liked Trump, like Obama before him, to press Duterte on the alleged extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in the government's crackdown on drugs.

    In a phone call in May, Trump lauded the "unbelievable job" Duterte had done in combating drug trafficking.

    But Trump's administration has made it clear that international human rights take a backseat to US national interests.

    If US loses the Philippines, it may lose Asia

    Scarborough shoal map south china sea philippines manilla subic bay

    The Philippines — because of its location in the South China Sea and in the Pacific and its utility as a host to massive US military bases — serves as a regional stronghold of US influence, which many see as having declined in comparison to a rising China.

    In 2015, the Philippines seemed set to head an internationally backed check on Beijing's unilateral land-and-sea grab in the South China Sea after The Hague ruled in Manila's favor in a border dispute. But in June 2016, Duterte, often regarded as a Trump-style politician, took power and took a hard look at the realpolitik of the situation.

    Rather than rely on US power to mediate the dispute between China and the Philippines, Duterte started bilateral talks with Beijing, essentially seeking favor from the world's second-largest economy to sweep the dispute under the rug.

    When China pushed Duterte by announcing it would develop islands just outside the Philippines' maritime borders, the brash Filipino backed down. "What do you want me to do? Declare war against China? I can't. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we (will be) a destroyed nation," Duterte said of the incident.

    So with Duterte capitulating to China, it became essential for the US's standing in the Pacific to bring the Philippines back into the fold.

    America first

    Subic Bay Naval

    In May, around the time when Beijing made a show of pushing around Duterte, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained what Trump's "America First" platform meant for foreign policy: The US would no longer push its values on other countries but would instead focus on promoting its policies.

    "If you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can't achieve our national security goals or our national security interests," Tillerson said.

    Abandoning an emphasis on human rights theoretically frees the US to seek strategic gains without pressuring countries to live up to the US's cultural values.

    The result is that the US prioritizes the national interests of its citizens over the human rights of citizens outside its borders. In August, national security adviser H.R. McMaster struggled to explain why Trump sanctioned Venezuela ostensibly for defying its own constitution yet praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for doing basically the same thing.

    Those reactions were consistent with Trump's America-first policy. Turkey is extremely important to US national interests as a NATO partner, a gatekeeper to the Syrian refugee crisis, and the controller of the Bosphorus Strait.

    Venezuela isn't as important to the US. It doesn't trade much, lacks strategic value, and has a struggling economy. The US can push its values on Venezuela because it can't push back.

    Ignoring human rights is the norm

    U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    Among the leaders at the Asean summit, Trump is not alone in turning a blind eye to human rights.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, the former president and current state counselor of Myanmar, attended the summit amid a burgeoning refugee crisis in her country. The UN has dubbed the Myanmar military's actions against the Muslim Rohingya minority as "textbook ethnic cleansing."

    But even though more than half a million refugees flooded into Bangladesh from the violence in Myanmar, many of whom would later become victims of human trafficking, it hardly got a mention at Asean.

    China previously said it "understands and supports" Myanmar in its struggle against the Rohingya, to whom it does not extend citizenship.

    With human rights on the back burner, Trump seemed to genuinely make friends with leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping and Duterte. In contrast, in September 2015, after Obama criticized the reported extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, Duterte responded "son of a bitch — I will swear at you."

    Asia may be above the law with human rights

    trump and xi army

    With China rapidly growing its military and economic might, experts have said it could displace the US as the dominant power in the Pacific and then in the world within a few decades.

    The conventional way of dealing with rising authoritarian powers is multilateralism, in which many nations rise against a single hegemon. The US does not want war or a showdown with China; instead, it wants a peaceful solution to the South China Sea and for international law to be upheld.

    But international cooperation comes at a price, and the Trump administration seems content making nice with governments that don't hold US values.

    SEE ALSO: Trump suggested softening the US stance toward Russia and easing sanctions

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    • A North Korean soldier defected to the South after being wounded by gunfire from the North Korean military.
    • He was found in a southern border village wounded in his shoulder and elbow. He was treated for his injuries.
    • About 1,000 North Koreans defect to the South each year on average.


    SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean soldier defected to the South on Monday after being shot and wounded by the North Korean military, South Korea said.

    The soldier was found on the south side of the border village of Panmunjom, about 50 meters south of the Military Demarcation Line, wounded in his shoulder and elbow, according to a South Korean defense ministry official.

    He defected from a North Korean guard post nearby and was being treated in hospital.

    "The defector was urgently transferred to hospital in a helicopter of the United Nations Command, and there was no exchange of fire with our side," the ministry official told Reuters.

    "Since it was an area exposed to the North, we had to crawl toward there to get him out," the official added.

    There was no immediate comment on the incident from North Korea.

    While on average more than 1,000 North Koreans defect to South Korea every year, most travel via China, and it is unusual for a North Korean to cross the land border dividing the two Koreas, which have been in a technical state of war since their 1950-1953 conflict ended in a truce and not a peace treaty.

    The last such crossing was in June.

    The South Korean ministry official said the soldier's condition and military rank remained to be verified.

    The defection comes amid tension between the two Koreas and between the United States and the North.

    North Korea has this year been boosting its nuclear and missile capacity with a series of tests as it faces off with US President Donald Trump, who has vowed to stop it from being able to hit the mainland United States with a nuclear weapon.

    North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on September 3, but it has not launched any missiles since firing one over Japan on September 15, the longest such lull this year.

    SEE ALSO: The deal for peace talks the Trump administration reportedly wants to offer Kim Jong Un

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    • The New York Times on Sunday published a detailed look at how the National Security Agency, the US's largest and most secretive intelligence agency, had been deeply infiltrated over the past year.
    • Expensive NSA cyberweapons are now for sale to hostile countries and have already been used in cyberattacks against the public.
    • Now doubt surrounds the NSA, and experts wonder whether the agency can do its job at all.


    The National Security Agency, the US's largest and most secretive intelligence agency, has been deeply infiltrated by anonymous hackers, as detailed in a New York Times exposé published Sunday.

    The NSA, which compiles massive troves of data on US citizens and organizes cyberoffensives against the US's enemies, was deeply compromised by a group known as the Shadow Brokers, which has made headlines in the past year in connection to the breach, whose source remains unclear.

    The group now posts cryptic, mocking messages pointed toward the NSA as it sells the cyberweapons, created at huge cost to US taxpayers, to any and all buyers, including US adversaries like North Korea and Russia.

    "It's a disaster on multiple levels," Jake Williams, a cybersecurity expert who formerly worked on the NSA's hacking group, told The Times. "It's embarrassing that the people responsible for this have not been brought to justice."

    "These leaks have been incredibly damaging to our intelligence and cybercapabilities," Leon Panetta, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told The Times. "The fundamental purpose of intelligence is to be able to effectively penetrate our adversaries in order to gather vital intelligence. By its very nature, that only works if secrecy is maintained and our codes are protected."

    Furthermore, a wave of cybercrime has been linked to the release of the NSA's leaked cyberweapons.

    Another NSA source who spoke with The Times described the attack as being at least in part the NSA's fault. The NSA has long prioritized cyberoffense over securing its own systems, the source said. As a result the US now essentially has to start over on cyberinitiatives, Panetta said.

    Read the full story at The New York Times here.

    SEE ALSO: What a cyberwar with North Korea could look like, according to a cybersecurity expert

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    aircraft carriers bomber north korea pacific

    The US Navy ended President Donald Trump's trip to Asia with a bang by having three aircraft carriers drill with South Korean and Japanese navy ships in the Pacific in a clear message to North Korea.

    The US Navy rarely gets to train with two aircraft carriers working together, and the last time three came together was 10 years ago. But the US now has seven aircraft carriers at sea and brought three of them together to put on a show of force no other nation on earth could possibly stage.

    The ships did air-defense drills, sea surveillance, and defensive air-combat training, according to a US Navy release. Between the three US carriers and one smaller Japanese carrier, the naval formation likely had more than 200 aircraft ready to strike at a moment's notice.

    North Korea likely doesn't have 200 aircraft to scramble even under the best circumstances, as it sorely lacks aviation fuel.

    Additionally, the formation may have sent a message to China, which seeks to unseat the US as the great power in the Pacific. The US Navy has the tools to unilaterally overwhelm any other navy, but it enjoys the support of its allies like South Korea and Japan. Though China has ambitions to grow its carrier force, it still doesn't have powerful allies like the US does.

    See the best pictures from the exercise in the photos below:

    SEE ALSO: Trump makes friends by putting America first and ignoring human rights in Asia

    Here are the four aircraft carriers being overflown by US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers. These bombers routinely train on striking North Korea from Guam.



    Here are US Navy F/A-18 fighter jets flying over the formation.



    Here are three US aircraft carriers at sea together for the first time in a decade.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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