POTUS PULLS OUT: Trump Withdraws US From World Health Organization Over Covid Concerns

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced the United States will end its relationship with the World Health Organization effective Friday, accusing the organization of caving to pressure from China and criticizing its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The world needs answers from China on the virus,” Trump said in a statement at the White House. “We must have transparency.”

“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”

In previous remarks Trump said that China had not properly reported information it had about the Covid-19 virus to the World Health Organization and said China had pressured the WHO to “mislead the world.”

“Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities,” Trump said. “Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe.”

The president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization was met with criticism from both the left and right.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted after the president’s announcement.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who heads the American Medical Association’s chamber’s health committee, warned Trump “in the strongest possible terms” to reverse the decision.

“I disagree with the president’s decision,” Alexander said in a released statement. “Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with Coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”

Many conservatives, however, praised the president’s decision, calling out the organization not only for its treatment of China but also its record of support for pro-abortion organizations.

“I am proud that our country will no longer be sending taxpayer dollars to support this radical regime,” said Allan Parker, president of The Justice Foundation, a pro-life legal group. “True, life-saving health measures can be funded through other organzations without an abortion agenda.”

REPORT: Iran ups uranium production as US tensions mount

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will surpass the uranium-stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, an official said Monday, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the accord a year after the U.S. withdrawal lit the fuse for the heightened tensions now between Tehran and Washington.

The announcement by Iran’s nuclear agency marked yet another deadline set by Tehran. President Hassan Rouhani already has warned Europe that a new deal needs to be in place by July 7 or the Islamic Republic would increase its enrichment of uranium.

Atomic energy spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi suggested that Iran’s enrichment could reach up to 20%, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

It appears as if Iran has begun its own maximum pressure campaign on the world after facing one from President Donald Trump’s administration that deeply cut into its sale of crude oil abroad and sent its economy into freefall. Europe has so far been unable to offer Iran a way around the U.S. sanctions.

The development follows apparent attacks last week in the Strait of Hormuz on oil tankers, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it laid mines in the 1980s targeting oil tankers around the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes.

“If this condition continues, there will be no deal” anymore, Kamalvandi said. He accused the Europeans of “killing time” as the clock runs down.

Rouhani, greeting France’s new ambassador to Tehran on Monday, similarly warned that time was running out on the deal.

“The current situation is very critical and France and the other parties to the (deal) still have a very limited opportunity to play their historic role for saving the deal,” Rouhani said, according to his website.

The announcement appeared timed to strike just as European foreign ministers met in Luxembourg. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, declined to specifically address the Iranian announcement.

“At the moment, as of today, Iran is still technically compliant and we strongly hope, encourage and expect that Iran continues to comply,” Mogherini told journalists. She insisted she would await the next report on the issue from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Under terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. Kamalvandi said that given Iran’s recent decision to quadruple its production of low-enriched uranium, it would pass the 300-kilogram limit on Thursday, June 27.

The Vienna-based IAEA said last month that Iran remained within its stockpile limits and declined to comment on Iran’s announcement. Kamalvandi said Iran would continue to allow the U.N. to inspect its nuclear facilities for the time being.

He also raised the specter of increasing its enrichment levels, saying Iran needs 5% enriched uranium for its nuclear power plant in southern Iranian port of Bushehr and 20% enriched fuel for its Tehran research reactor.

The nuclear deal limits Iran to enriching uranium only to 3.67%, enough for power plants and other peaceful purposes.

But after America pulled out of the nuclear accord and escalated sanctions, Rouhani set a July 7 deadline for Europe to come up with better terms for the deal or Tehran would boost enrichment further. So far, a European mechanism called INSTEX to protect trade with Iran has yet to take off.

The danger, nuclear nonproliferation experts warn, is that at 20% enrichment, only a fraction of atoms need to be removed to enrich up to weapons-grade levels of 90%. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the 2015 deal grew out of Western concerns about the program.

Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Since Trump took office, the U.S. has steadily stripped away at the accord, and he pulled America out of the deal in May 2018.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the international community should reinstate sanctions if Iran follows through on its threats, adding: “In any case, Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.”

Tensions have risen in the region since last month. The U.S. rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the Middle East in response to what it said were threats from Iran.

Meanwhile, a series of mysterious attacks have targeted oil tankers, and the U.S. blames Iranian-laid limpet mines. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen also have launched a series of drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which the U.S. suspects in the attacks, answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and operates outside of the traditional military’s control.

Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the chief of the general staff of Iran’s armed forces, denied Tehran was involved in the tanker attacks, saying Monday the country only would respond in “an open, strong and severe way” if needed.

But he also reiterated Iran’s traditional stance on the Strait of Hormuz.

“If we decide to block the Strait of Hormuz, we will to do it in a way that even a drop of oil won’t pass the strait,” Bagheri added.

Kamalvandi spoke to Iranian journalists at the country’s Arak heavy water nuclear reactor. Such reactors produce plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons. Iran, under the nuclear deal, had reconfigured the facility to address Western concerns on that issue.

However, Kamalvandi said the country could rebuild the facility to make it produce plutonium. He made a point to give an interview to Iranian state television, standing next to the open pit where the reactor would be in the facility.

As the camera panned down to what would be the reactor’s core, Kamalvandi stressed that piping could be replaced and the reactor could be built to make plutonium. Hard-liners opposed to the nuclear deal had constantly accused the agency of filling the entire pit with concrete.

“They had previously photoshoped a picture of this place having been filled up with concrete,” Kamalvandi said.

He added: “The message that we tried to get across to Europeans today was that not much time is left for them.”

___

Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi, Raf Casert and Frank Jordans contributed to the contents of this report.

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SECURING THE BORDER: Trump administration deported 53,764 illegal Mexicans during first quarter of 2018, says report

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Human rights and immigrant advocates are calling on the Mexican government to devote more resources to supporting the growing number of Mexicans deported from the United States.

Mexican government data show that the U.S. deported 53,764 Mexicans in the first three months of the year, up 40 percent over the same quarter a year earlier. Deportations had fallen during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, but this year’s figures have now surpassed the total for the same period in 2016, the final year of Barack Obama’s administration.

Eunice Rendon of Migrant Agenda said Wednesday at a news conference with Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission that Mexico must provide additional funding for reintegration.

Rendon says the longer immigrants have lived in the U.S. the fewer ties they have in Mexico.

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‘You’re in violation of EVERYTHING’: D.C. on alert after cryptic warning from Putin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s capital is on high alert following a thinly veiled threat issued Monday from Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In a statement issued by the Kremlin, Putin, angry over a lengthy list of sanctions put forth by President Donald Trump in retaliation for alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, lashed out at the U.S., accusing U.S. officials of breaching “everything”.

“This is outrageous from the standpoint of legality and violates anything and everything,” said the Kremlin, who added it is considering “a large variety of options”.

“This is quite a new phenomenon and we are seeing the first manifestations of its negative impact,” said Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov.“Of course, it takes time to analyse it, to understand the extent of the real damage and to work out steps to improve the situation as much as possible.”

What exactly those options are, say insiders, is what is most concerning to military officials.

Putin’s statement comes after the sanctions, coupled with fears over increased conflict in Syria ravaged markets, sent Russian stocks plummeting, leading to the most devastating impact to the Russian economy in decades.

As a result, the rouble fell as much as 4.1 percent against the dollar, its largest drop since 2016.

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia reached a fever pitch last weekend when
President Donald Trump led international condemnation of a reported chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government. A visibly angry Trump warned there would be a “big price to pay” for the Syrian regime and it’s Russian and Iranian backers if reports of the alleged chemical attack were to be confirmed.

This is not the first time that Trump and Putin have gone head to head over the use of Chemical weapons in Syria. Although the two world leaders managed to work out their differences through peaceful negotiation in the past, White House insiders say Trump’s patience is quickly wearing thin.

On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Putin directly over the latest alleged attack, warning the Russian president that there would be a large price to pay if he finds out that Russia was at all involved.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,” the president tweeted.

“Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world.

“President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.

“Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

In a separate statement, President Trump reiterated his condemnation of the attack and vowed to punish those accountable.

“If it’s Russia, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran or all of them together, we’ll figure it out,” he said.

In response to Trump’s comments, Mr Peskov said: “We are analyzing the situation. The interests of our country are seen as of paramount importance.”

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President of the European Commission: ‘Swift and decisive reaction’ necessary over latest North Korean nuclear test

BRUSSELS, FRANCE — European Commission president Donald Tusk called for “swift and decisive” reaction to the latest nuclear tests carried out this weekend by North Korea.
 
In a statement on Sunday, Tusk said the EU is calling on the U.N. Security Council “to adopt further U.N. sanctions and show stronger resolve to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” adding, “The stakes are getting too high.”
 
Tusk said North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a verifiable and irreversible manner and it must cease all related activities at once in order to avoid a military response.
 
Response has also been coming in throughout the day from political leaders in the U.S. who were quick to condemn the latest round of tests, which based on the tremors that followed the test, had an explosive yield of approximately 120 kilotons. By comparison, the nuclear bomb dropped at Hiroshima’s had 15 kilotons.
 
“Well, what we have been doing over the years has certainly not slowed the advance of their nuclear program, but I don’t think that harsh rhetoric does either,” Jeff Flake, (R)- Arizona, said on Sunday. ” I think that they’re moving. Certainly, sanctions are — are not, you know, arresting that development either. So just about nothing we have done so far has helped slow it down. They seem intent on moving forward. Obviously, we hope that China exercises its leverage. They have considerably more leverage than we do. But I think, given where they are, we see the limits of economic sanctions obviously on North Korea.”
 
Ben Sasse, (R) – Nebraska, echoed Flake’s comments and said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “must be confronted”.
 
“If North Korea has in fact successfully tested a nuclear warhead that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, Kim Jong-un is clearly threatening the American people,” Sasse said on Sunday. “He must be confronted. The United States, our allies and partners, and those who are still enabling Pyongyang must confront and change Kim Jong-un’s calculus of terror. Diplomatically if we can. Militarily if we must.”
 
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‘WE WON’T HESITATE’: TENSIONS RISE WITH RUSSIA AFTER SHOOT DOWN OF SYRIAN JET

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tensions between the United States and Russia have again reached a fever pitch after a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian aircraft on Sunday, the first time in history a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian plane.

Responding to Russian threats to treat U.S.-led coalition planes flying in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, as targets, a Pentagon spokesperson said Monday that U.S. forces will not hesitate to respond to Russian acts of military aggression.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in a statement to Russian news agencies, declared his outrage over the incident and compared the shoot down to “helping the terrorists that the U.S. is fighting against.”

“The shooting down of a Syrian Air Force jet in Syria’s airspace is a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” said Ryabkov. “The US’ repeated combat operations under the guise of ‘combating terrorism’ against the legitimate armed forces of a UN member-country are a flagrant violation of international law and an actual military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

“What is this, if not an act of aggression,” he asked.

Ryabkov declared that in the wake of the incident, any safety nets between the U.S. and Russia are now off. A hotline, had been set up between Russia and the US to prevent mid-air collisions, has been suspended by Russian officials.

“All kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets,” said Ryabkov, who stopped just short of saying that any U.S. planes entering the airspace would be shot down.

“We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,” Capt. Jeff Davis said in response to Ryabkov’s comments Monday morning.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford echoed Davis’ comments while speaking on Monday at the National Press Club.

“I’m confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russia federation operations center — and I’m also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves,” said Dunford.

In a separate statement, Department of Defense spokesperson Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said U.S. forces will continue conducting “operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for Coalition partner forces on the ground.”

“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace,” Rankine-Galloway said.

Sunday’s conflict marked the first time in nearly two decades that U.S. forces have shot down an warplane in air-to-air combat.

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PREPPING FOR WAR: US PLANS FIRST TEST OF ICBM INTERCEPT AS TENSIONS WITH NORTH KOREA ESCALATE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As tensions with North Korea remain at an all time high, the Pentagon on Friday announced that it will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test mission next week.

North Korea nuclear capability remains a top U.S. concern because its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to launch a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American territory in response to what he’s called “repeated acts of American aggression”. Although the rogue leader has yet to test test such missile, Pentagon officials believe it is only a matter of time.

During a press conference this week, Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that if “left unchecked,” Kim will eventually succeed.

Of paramount concern to defense experts is the interceptor’s less than stellar track record track record. In prior tests, the tool was successful in intercepting just nine of 17 attempts. The most recent test, which was conducted in June 2014, was ultimately successful, but only after failing three separate times. Sources within the Pentagon say that despite the advancements in technology, the system has only slightly evolved from the multibillion-dollar effort put forth by president Ronald Reagan’s 1983 “Star Wars” program, which was developed in response to ongoing tensions with the then Soviet Union.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going to say if it fails,” Philip Coyle, senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/politics/article/US-plans-first-test-of-ICBM-intercept-with-11176038.php). “These tests are scripted for success, and what’s been astonishing to me is that so many of them have failed.”

According to military officials the interceptor will be launched from an underground facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and directed toward the target, which will be fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. If successful, the “kill vehicle” will destroy the ICBM-like target’s mock warhead in the air above the Pacific Ocean.

“We conduct increasingly complex test scenarios as the program matures and advances,” Christopher Johnson, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, said on Friday. “Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process.”

trumpwillmeet

ARMING THE ENEMY? UN AIDS ROGUE STATE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NERVE GAS

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — Over the course of the last year, the United Nations has aided North Korea in developing a patent application for production of sodium cyanide — a chemical used in the development of nerve gas, says a bombshell report.

In an exclusive reveal, Fox News reported on Monday that the rogue state began the international patent process on Nov. 1, 2015 — just two months prior to its fourth nuclear test.

Sodium cyanide, which has been on a list of materials banned from shipment to that country by the U.N. Security Council since 2006, is used to make Tabun, a deadly nerve agent.

Hugh Griffiths, coordinator of the international U.N. expert team, told Fox News that a panel of experts officially “opened an investigation into this matter” based upon a report obtained from the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, website (https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf;jsessionid=47851DD954DCB23C0999B064BEC3119B.wapp1nB?docId=WO2016199944&recNum=3&office=&queryString=%28ANID%3AKP*+AND+CTR%3AWO%29&prevFilte=&sortOption=Pub+Date+Desc&maxRec=45).

“This is a disturbing development that should be of great concern to the U.S. administration and to Congress, as well as the U.S. Representative to the U.N.,” William Newcomb, a former member of the U.N. Panel of Experts told Fox News.
“It undermines sanctions to have this going on. The U.N. agencies involved should have been much more alert to checking these programs out.”

The revelation comes just days after North Korean leaders announced that they had fired off a long range missile capable of carrying a “heavy nuclear warhead” and hitting U.S. targets.

The United Nations receives $8 billion from the United States each year. The funds are supposed to go toward humanitarian projects but inside sources say the funds are being funneled to mostly anti-American tyrannical regimes around the globe.

Last week, tensions between the United States and North Korea reached a fever pitch after North Korean officials claimed the CIA and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service conspired to assassinate Kim Jong Un with a biochemical weapon.

U.S. intelligence officials called North Korea’s claims “baseless”.

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PREPPING FOR WAR: NORTH KOREA HOLDS ‘LIVE FIRE’ DRILLS AS U.S. BATTLE SHIP DRAWS NEAR

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — North Korea on Tuesday conducted a mass live-fire drill that reportedly involved up to 400 artillery pieces under the supervision of leader, Kim Jong Un. The drill is just the latest indication that the rogue state is preparing to launch a preemptive strike against the U.S., say military experts.

The drill comes on the heels of the approach of a nuclear-powered American submarine that is currently barreling toward the region.

As reported on Monday, the entire U.S. Senate has been called to the White House for an emergency briefing of the conflict (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/04/24/brink-of-war-entire-senate-called-to-white-house-for-briefing-on-north-korea-as-rogue-state-warns-of-preemptive-strike/).

According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats are have cleared their schedule in order to update members of the Senate on the latest developments.

Meanwhile, China president Xi Jinping has warned Kim Jong Un that should war break out between the United States and North Korea, it will be Korea that suffers most.

In an editorial piece for the Global Times, a publication that is widely regarded as the official news source of the Communist Party, Chinese government officials wrote: “The game of chicken between Washington and Pyongyang has come to a breaking point.”

The warning continued that “it is more likely than ever that the situation will cross the point of no return” and that “all stakeholders will bear the consequences, with Pyongyang sure to suffer the greatest losses.”

Lu Kang, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, urged Kim Jung un to find a peaceful solution to the conflict before “it is too late”.

“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive and the tension is high,” said Kang.“We urge all sides concerned to keep restrained and calm and refrain from taking actions that could escalate tensions.”

The aid of the Chinese government comes just weeks after president Donald Trump met with Xi Jinping and essentially told him that destruction of the United States was not in China’s best interests. “If we go down, our debt to you and the trillions that you make from us in foreign trade goes down with us,” Trump reportedly told Jinping.

Despite warnings from their Chinese neighbors, North Korea has seemingly remained defiant.

“There is no limit to the strike power of the People’s Army armed with our style of cutting-edge military equipment including various precision and miniaturised nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” a government spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday to a Pyongyang-based newspaper (https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0425/870024-donald-trump-wants-tougher-new-sanctions-on-north-korea/).

Trump on Tuesday said that “one way or another” North Korea’s nuclear weapons program must be stopped.

“North Korea is a big world problem,” said the president, “and it’s a problem we have to finally solve.”

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