‘PLAYING WITH FIRE’: Pelosi to Visit Taiwan Despite Fresh Warnings from China

WASHINGTON— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s tour of Asia will include a visit to Taiwan, senior Taiwanese government and US officials confirmed on Monday.

The planned visit comes despite fresh warnings by the Chinese government that Pelosi’s stop will be seen as an act of aggression on the part of the United States.

“We would like to tell the US once again that China is standing by, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by. China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a foreign ministry briefing Monday.

“As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let’s wait and see,” Zhao added.

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said Monday that the Biden administration will take all necessary precautions to ensure Pelosi’s safety.

“We want to make sure that when she travels overseas, she can do so safely and securely and we’re going to make sure of that. There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric. There is no reason for any actions to be taken. It is not uncommon for congressional leaders to travel to Taiwan,” Kirby told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day.”

“We shouldn’t be as a country – we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions. This is an important trip for the speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her.” 

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned against “playing with fire” over Taiwan in a call with Joe Biden last Thursday, highlighting Beijing’s concerns about the possible visit.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” China’s foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Biden in their fifth call as leaders. “It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this.”

Xi warned the Biden administration should abide by the “one-China principle” and stressed that China firmly opposes Taiwanese independence and outside interference.

‘PUT UP OR SHUT UP’: Giuliani says Trump will answer no more questions from Mueller

WASHINGTON — Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said on Thursday that his client’s cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller is essentially over.

In an interview with Reuters, Giuliani said President Trump submitted a series of written answers to questions from Mueller in late November regarding the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Giuliani said when approached by Mueller’s team about answering a new set of follow up questions, he and Trump refused and there has been no contact with Mueller’s team since.

“As far as we’re concerned, everything is over,” Giuliani told Reuters. “We weren’t convinced they had any questions they don’t know the answer to.”

Giuliani then went on to say that what Mueller decides to do with the president’s answers is now up to him. “They could try to subpoena him if they want,” he said. “But they know we could fight that like hell.”

Despite allegations by Democrats, Trump has steadfastly denied any collusion with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

But Democrats cite former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s sentencing last month to three years in prison for crimes including orchestrating “hush money” payments to two of the president’s former lovers in violation of campaign finance laws as proof of misdeeds within the Trump campaign team. As he plead guilty at his sentencing, Cohen claimed he was directed by Trump.

Giuliani says the president did no wrong and that the Cohen and Russia matters are two completely separate issues.

“We have a memo from a number of campaign finance experts that paying what they call hush money, since it has a personal purpose, is not considered a campaign contribution,” Giuliani said. “Therefore it’s not a violation of the campaign finance law.”

In the Reuters interview, Giuliani called for the end of the “witch hunt” against the president and urged Mueller to “put up or shut up”.

“Put up or shut up,” Giuliani said. “We challenge you to do it.”

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REPORT: North Korea continues construction of nuclear research facility despite promises to denuclearize

PYONGYANG (Fox News) — Despite North Korea’s promise to work toward “complete denuclearization” following the historic summit with Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump earlier this month, new satellite imagery indicates North Korea is making improvements to one of its nuclear scientific research centers at a “rapid pace.”

The images published in a report from 38 North, a website that specializes in analysis of the Rogue Nation, are from June 21 and reveal construction of new buildings and the completion of a plutonium production reactor as well as other support facilities at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility.

The center is North Korea’s main research facility, according to Sky News.

“Modifications to North Korea’s 5 MWe reactor’s secondary cooling loop, which began in March, appear externally complete,” according to the report. “A newly in-filled water channel (that includes a newly installed probable weir for controlling water flow) now leads to the pump house from the Kuryong River.”

The operational status of the reactor was not clear.

Although the images appear to show “improvements to infrastructure,” the report said the “continued work at the Yongbyon facility should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize.”

Trump and Kim signed an agreement in Singapore on June 12 stating that Pyongyang would work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Last week, the president underscored the point of “total denuclearization,” while noting that it “has already started taking place,” according to Reuters.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN Monday there is no timeline for when North Korea will denuclearize the peninsula, but said the U.S. is “committed to moving forward in an expeditious moment to see if we can achieve what both leaders set out to do.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe met on Wednesday to discuss how to ensure North Korea abandons its nuclear program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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‘TIME TO BRING OUR SOLDIERS HOME’: Trump calls for end to military drills on Korean peninsula in wake of successful Singapore summit

Washington, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday called for an immediate end to all military drills on the Korean peninsula following the penning of a historic agreement with North Korea in which North Korean leader Kim Jung- Un agreed to the denuclearization of his region.

“We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should,” Trump said after his meeting with Kim. “But we’ll be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it’s very provocative.”

It’s time to “bring our soldiers back home,” he added.

While those hoping for peace worldwide celebrated the president’s comments, South Korean leaders took the news with a certain level of apprehension.

“At this current point, there is a need to discern the exact meaning and intent of President Trump’s comments,” Seoul’s Defense Ministry said, according to the Associated Press.

A spokesperson for U.S. Forces Korea, which oversees approximately 30,000 troops on the Korean Peninsula, said the military unit has not yet received clarification as to when the ongoing exercises will end.

“The USFK has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises — to include this fall’s scheduled Ulchi Freedom Guardian,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Still, as Republicans tout the history-making agreement with Kim, Democrats have been quick to criticize Trump as ‘naive” in his negotiations with the North Korean leader.

“In his haste to reach an agreement, President Trump elevated North Korea to the level of the United States while preserving the regime’s status quo,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Tuesday. “The millions of families currently living in fear of nuclear weapons in the region deserve strong and smart leadership built on diplomacy and engagement with our regional partners and allies.”

“The President’s marginalization of the vast expertise of the State Department and his habitual disparaging of our allies as demonstrated at the G7 Forum hinders a lasting, stable pathway to peace,” Pelosi added.

But an undeterred Trump on Tuesday celebrated the monumental agreement and criticized prior administrations for allowing U.S., North Korea relations to deteriorate to such levels.

“You know, we did sanctions and all the things you would do but I think without the rhetoric,” the president said during an appearance on Sean Hannity. “You know, other administrations, I don’t want to get specific on that, but you know they had a policy of silence.”

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TRUMP CRACKS DOWN: Dozens of illegals from multiple nations detained by ICE in Arizona immigration raid

PHOENIX, AZ — (Reuters) -Thirty-four people said to be illegal immigrants were in custody on Wednesday after federal agents raided a “drop house” in Phoenix suspected of being a part of a human smuggling operation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said.

The raid late on Tuesday was precipitated by a tip that a “local residence contained a large group of suspected undocumented aliens,” Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for ICE, said in a statement.

The information led agents with ICE Homeland Security Investigations to “dismantle a human smuggling drop house,” she said.

“Federal agents discovered 34 undocumented aliens inside the residence. The group included 27 Guatemalan nationals, 5 Mexican nationals and 2 Honduran nationals,” Mack said.

All 34 were detained for violations associated with the failed human smuggling operation and processed for removal. “The investigation into the smuggling activity is ongoing,” Mack said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered stricter immigration enforcement.

See more at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-arizona-immigration/34-people-from-3-countries-detained-in-arizona-immigration-raid-idUSKBN1H42A2

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THE ‘CALM BEFORE THE STORM’? US deploys second nuclear warship, 7,500 marines to North Korea strike zone

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump has ordered The USS Theodore Roosevelt to the western Pacific amid reports that North Korea is about to test a nuclear weapon with capabilities of reaching the United States.

According to military officials, the vessel is expected to join the build-up of warships along the North Korean border.

Admiral Steve Koehler, a strike group commander on the ship, said 7,500 sailors are on board the ship and “ready as a war fighting force”.

“The US Navy carrier strike group is the most versatile, capable force at sea,” he said in a statement before the ship’s launch.

“After nearly a year of training and integration exercises, the entire team is ready as a warfighting force and ready to carry out the nation’s tasking.”

The announcement follows cryptic remarks by President Donald Trump last week as he was hosting a dinner for military commanders and their spouses that the event was “the calm before the storm”.

When pressed for clarification, the president refused to comment other than to say, “you’ll soon see”.

Constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz said of the president’s comments that they were a warning to North Korea and Iran not to fool with the United States (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/alan-dershowitz-trumps-calm-before-the-storm-is-a-message-to-north-korea-and-iran/article/2636914).

“North Korea and Iran are taking the measure of President Trump to see how far they can push him and how much they can get away with,” Dershowitz said in an opinion piece for The Washington Examiner. “If these worrisome actions by the two rogue nations persist, there will be a storm.”

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have reached a fever pitch over the course of the past several months. In a series of recent Tweets, President Trump said as diplomatic alternatives continue to fail, use of military force against North Korean leader Kim Jung Un may be America’s only option.

In an interview with Russian media agency TASS (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-trump/north-korea-says-trump-has-lit-the-wick-of-war-russias-tass-agency-idUSKBN1CG28W), North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said in response, “With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us.”

“We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words,” he warned.

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KIM TARGETS TRUMP: North Korea vows ‘ruthless’ retaliation toward America as tensions mount

Washington, D.C. — North Korea released a propaganda video on Tuesday showing President Donald Trump looking out over a graveyard full of crosses (http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/844271/World-War-3-North-Korea-v-USA-Guam-warning-video-propaganda-Kim-Jong-Un).

The video, which was paired with an ominous warning from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, criticized the president for “spouting rubbish” and parodied his frequent use of Twitter and other social media platforms.

The video also showed a figure resembling Vice President Pence consumed by flames and mocked South Korea’s “puppy-like” Defense Minister Song Young-moo for “pinning hope on that mad guy.”

“Trump spouted rubbish that if a war breaks out, it would be on the Korean Peninsula, and if thousands of people die, they would be only Koreans and Americans may sleep a sound sleep,” a statement from KCNA, North Korea’s official news agency, read on Tuesday.

In a separate statement issued by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2017/08/22/0200000000AEN20170822002752315.html), the KCNA vowed to wage “ruthless” retaliation against South Korea and the U.S. in response to their participation in a series of ongoing joint military exercises.

“The U.S. will be wholly held accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by such reckless aggressive war maneuvers, as it chose a military confrontation [with North Korea],” a North Korean military spokesman told the KCNA.

In related news, the US Treasury Department announced on Tuesday new sanctions which target Chinese and Russian entities that help fund and facilitate North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

“As a result of today’s action, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of US persons or within the United States must be blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them,” the Treasury Department said in a released statement (https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0148.aspx).

“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs and isolating them from the American financial system,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said. “It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region. We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea and to deter this activity in the future.”

North Korea’s latest round of threats come on the heals of Monday’s Reuters report which revealed that two North Korean shipments bound for a Syrian chemical arms facility were recently “intercepted.”

“The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the [North Korea],” the report read (http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-northkorea-syria-un-idUKKCN1B12G8?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=599b6e2604d301797510cb1b&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter).

North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. The Security Council has stepped up efforts in recent weeks to shut those programs down since North Korea’s recent tests of nuclear weapons and four long-range missile launches.

President Trump has heavily called on China to put more pressure on North Korea but thus far China has done little to curb the threats of it’s neighbor and ally.

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TRUMP EFFECT: US JOB OPENINGS SURGE TO RECORD HIGHS, SAY REPORTS

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The U.S. labor market has hit a record high under the first six months of the Trump administration, according to a report by the labor department issued on Tuesday.

According to the July Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, job vacancies rose by 461k, the most for a single month’s time in almost two years, to 6.16 million with a majority of the jobs in demand being in the health care and social assistance industry and for professional and business services. Further, in the per annum through June, the economy created a net 2.3 million jobs, representing 63.4 million new hires.

July figures released last week document also documented that payrolls increased more than forecast while the unemployment rate matched a 16-year low.

Indeed, as the surge of employers pleased with the incentives offered by the Trump administration again begin recruiting after years of hiring freezes, the danger shifts, say experts, from a slumping job market to too many jobs and not enough vacancies to fill them.

“Companies are running out of workers to hire to do the job or even train to do the work, and this is a ticking time bomb for economic growth,” Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York told Reuters (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-jobs-idUSKBN1AO1OP).

Coinciding with the JOLTS report, a July National Federation of Independent Business report showed showed job openings at a 16-year high. Economists excited over the latest trend say they have every reason to believe the surge in job creation to continue under the Trump administration.

“The JOLTS report continues what has been a reasonably strong run for the labor market data, and we expect continued improvement in the job market to keep upward pressure on wages,” Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York told Reuters.

Even critics of the Trump administration have come forward to praise the most recent job numbers.

“Kind of an all-around strong headline number,” said Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at Citizens Bank told MSNBC (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/04/us-nonfarm-payrolls-july-2017.html). “More people are coming into the labor force and finding jobs. It’s difficult to find anything really negative in the report.”

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CALLED TO TESTIFY: SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE WANTS TRUMP JR UNDER OATH AMID RUSSIAN MEETING REVELATIONS

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has announced it will call Donald Trump, Jr. to testify before lawmakers amid revelations that the president’s son met with a Russian attorney who promised “dirt” on the president’s then rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, in the Spring of 2016 according to a report published on Tuesday by Reuters.

According to the report (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-senate-idUSKBN19W24F?il=0), the committee will seek to obtain all documents pertaining to any communications Trump, Jr. or members of the Trump administration had with Russian officials during the time leading up to the November, 2016 election.

As reported earlier (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/07/11/don-comes-clean-trump-jr-releases-full-transcript-of-email-interaction-with-russian-lawyer-who-sought-to-stop-hillary/), Trump, Jr. released a chain of emails to social media on Tuesday which documented a high ranking Russian attorney’s apparent offer to provide information that would “incriminate” Trump’s then Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

As of press time there has been no date set for the testimony as the committee is still in the process of sending Trump’s eldest son a formal request for information.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a senior Democrat on the committee, say the emails prove that the Trump campaign “sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert America’s democracy.”

“The question is how far the coordination goes,” said Wyden.

Trump, Jr. claims no wrongdoing in regard to the email communication nor the subsequent meeting that followed. In a statement released on Tuesday, the president’s eldest son claims the meeting turned out to be fruitless and a waste of time.

“I first wanted to just have a phone call but when they didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting…As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was ‘the most insane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it’” the statement reads.

Although Trump Jr. tweeted Monday that he would be “happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know,” a spokesperson for the Trump Organization has confirmed that he has hired a lawyer, Alan Futerfas, to represent him in regard to the Russia probes.

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NOT BACKING DOWN: KIM JUNG-UN WARNS PREEMPTIVE NUCLEAR STRIKE COULD COME ‘AT ANY TIME’ DESPITE TRUMP’S OFFER TO ‘TALK’

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced on Monday that a nuclear launch could come “at any time and at any location” in response to what it called acts of aggression by the United States.

The rogue leader’s comment comes on the same day that U.S. president Donald Trump said he would be willing to sit down with Jong-un to discuss their countries’ differences if the “circumstances were right” (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/05/01/peace-talks-trump-says-he-would-absolutely-meet-with-north-korean-leader-kim-jung-un-as-world-braces-for-war/).

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been at an all time high for the past several weeks, since the communist country claimed that it has developed nuclear weapons that have the capacity to reach the U.S. mainland.

A spokesman for Jung-un’s military said Pyongyang was “fully ready to respond to any option taken by the US” and that it will “continue bolstering its preemptive nuclear attack” capabilities until Washington refrained from its “hostile policies”.

“The DPRK’s measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership,” a statement from the state-run KCNA news agency read.

Last week, both Washington, D.C. and Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city, carried out joint exercises to prepare for the impact of nuclear war. Further, in a nearly unprecedented event, all members of the U.S. Senate were called to the White House to be briefed on the escalating conflict.

The U.S. emergency drills have ended, but naval exercises are continuing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) with a US strike group led by the aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson.

During the past week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called upon the UN Security Council to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the world does not act.

Asked during a Reuters interview on Saturday if a North Korea nuclear test would prompt U.S. military action, Trump replied: “You’ll soon find out.”

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