By David Brunnstrom and Steve Holland SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat and his top diplomat offered a hopeful timeline for "major disarmament," despite skepticism at home that Pyongyang will abandon its nuclear weapons following this week's summit. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a joint statement after their historic meeting in Singapore on Tuesday that reaffirmed the North's commitment to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and gave U.S. guarantees of security to North Korea. Democratic critics in the United States said the agreement was short on detail and the Republican president had made too many concessions to Kim, whose country is under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and weapons programs and is widely condemned for human rights abuses. Just over half of Americans approve of how Trump has handled North Korea, but only a quarter think the summit will lead to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Wednesday. North Korea's state media hailed the summit as a success, including highlighting Trump's surprise announcement after the meeting that the United States would stop military exercises with South Korea, which the North has long sought. Despite the lack of detail in the summit agreement, Trump stressed at a news conference afterward that he trusted Kim to follow through. He returned to Washington early on Wednesday and hailed the meeting, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, as a major win for American security. "Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office," Trump tweeted. "There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!" Kim also returned home, the North's official news agency said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is charged by Trump with leading follow-on negotiations, said the United States hoped to achieve "major disarmament" by North Korea within the next 2-1/2 years. Democratic lawmakers pointed out that North Korea had often made similar statements in the past about "denuclearization," all the while developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that could be capable of striking the United States. 'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?' "One trip and it's 'mission accomplished,' Mr. President? North Korea still has all its nuclear missiles, and we only got a vague promise of future denuclearization from a regime that can't be trusted," said Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. "North Korea is a real and present threat. So is a dangerously naive president," he wrote on Twitter. Senator Chris Van Hollen, also a Democrat, said of Trump's tweet about North Korea no longer presenting a threat: "This is truly delusional." Trump also downplayed concerns about Kim's human rights record. In an interview with Fox News broadcast on Wednesday, Trump said: "A lot of other people (have) done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done." The summit statement provided no details on when Pyongyang would give up a nuclear weapons program or how the dismantling might be verified. Skeptics of how much the meeting achieved pointed to the North Korean leadership's long-held view that nuclear weapons are a bulwark against what it fears are U.S. plans to overthrow it and unite the Korean Peninsula. Speaking to reporters on a trip to Seoul, where he went to brief South Korean officials, Pompeo was asked if he would like to accomplish major nuclear disarmament within Trump’s current term, which ends in January 2021. He replied: "Oh yes, most definitively. "Absolutely ... you used the term major, major disarmament, something like that? We're hopeful that we can achieve that in the 2-1/2 years." The United States has long insisted on complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization by North Korea, but in the summit statement, North Korea committed only to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” phrasing it has used in the past. North Korea has often rejected unilateral nuclear disarmament, instead referring to the denuclearization of the peninsula. That has always been interpreted in part as a call for the United States to remove its "nuclear umbrella" protecting South Korea and Japan. Pompeo bristled at a question about why the words “verifiable” and “irreversible” were not in the summit joint statement, in the context of denuclearization. “It’s in the statement. You’re just wrong about that. ... Because complete encompasses verifiable and irreversible. I suppose you could argue semantics, but let me assure you that it’s in the document,” Pompeo said. Pressed on how the agreement would be verified, he said: “Of course it will. ... I find that question insulting and ridiculous and frankly ludicrous.” 'SAVE A FORTUNE' Despite Trump's assertion about the North Korean nuclear threat being over, a senior U.S. official responsible for studying the North Korean military said the U.S. intelligence assessment of the nuclear and other military threat posed by North Korea to U.S. and allied forces and bases in Asia and the northwest Pacific remained unchanged. But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which assesses threats to U.S. national security, declined to comment on the president's assertion. It also declined to reaffirm a February 2018 assessment in which it said: “North Korea will be among the most volatile and confrontational WMD (weapons of mass destruction) threats to the United States over the next year.” In a post-summit announcement that appeared unexpected even to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said on Tuesday the United States would stop military exercises with South Korea while North Korea negotiated on denuclearization. "We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith - which both sides are!" he later wrote on Twitter. U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called the cost reasoning "ridiculous," telling CNN: "It's not a burden onto the American taxpayer to have a forward deployed force in South Korea." "It brings stability. It's a warning to China that you can't just take over the whole region. So I reject that analysis that it costs too much, but I do accept the proposition, let's stand down (on military exercises) and see if we can find a better way here." The United States maintains about 28,500 soldiers in South Korea, which remains in a technical state of war with the North after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. There was some confusion over precisely what military exercises Trump had promised to halt. The U.S.-South Korean exercise calendar hits a high point every year with the Foal Eagle and Max Thunder drills, which both wrapped up last month. Another major exercise is due in August. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom in Seoul and Steve Holland in Washington; Additional reporting by John Walcott, Jonathan Landay, Susan Heavey and Mary Milliken in Washington and Chris Kahn in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Frances Kerry and Peter Cooney)
- Yahoo News
Some of the dozens of arrests tied to last Wednesday's attempted insurrection at the Capitol carried out by militant supporters of President Trump.
Bottoms is set to be vice chair in charge of the campaign organization’s civic engagement and voter protection. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. In the role, Bottoms would be in charge of civic engagement and voter protection.
Bee Nguyen, Georgia's first Vietnamese American state representative, donned an áo dài to her swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. Regarded as the most popular national costume of Vietnam, the áo dài for women is a long dress with a contoured top that flows over loose-fitting trousers that reach the sole of the feet. Nguyen, 39, decided to wear the garment in response to the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, in which rioters carried the South Vietnamese flag.
- Yahoo News
On the morning of Jan. 6, many Black Americans celebrated the news that the Rev. Raphael Warnock had become the first African American U.S. senator from Georgia. But hours later, President Trump exhorted supporters of his to head to the U.S. Capitol to make their displeasure known to lawmakers who were set to certify the results of the presidential election. Black Americans share their reactions.
- Associated Press
Hong Kong police on Thursday said they arrested 11 people on suspicion of assisting offenders who are believed to be the 12 Hong Kong activists detained at sea by mainland Chinese authorities while attempting to flee the city last year. District councilor and lawyer Daniel Wong Kwok-tung posted on his Facebook page early Thursday that national security officers had arrived at his home. Wong, a member of the Democratic Party, is known for providing legal assistance to hundreds of activists arrested during antigovernment protests in 2019.
- The Week
A reserve of second-dose COVID-19 vaccines set to be repurposed as first doses is already empty, state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans tell The Washington Post.Both the coronavirus vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. require two doses to be fully effective. So when distribution of first doses began, the Trump administration held back matching second doses to make sure recipients would be fully protected against COVID-19. Amid a massive demand for more doses, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced earlier this week that the department would begin doling out those reserved doses to more people, saying increased production speed would make up for the soon-to-be-depleted reserve.But as officials soon learned, the federal government had stopped stockpiling second dose vaccines weeks ago, they tell the Post. Both first and second doses were instead taken right off the manufacturing line. That meant Azar's announcement reportedly released a stockpile that didn't exist. The U.S. had already reached its maximum distribution capacity, and new doses distributors were expecting next week weren't coming, the Post reports.HHS spokesperson Michael Pratt confirmed in an email to the Post that the last of the reserve had been taken out for shipment this weekend. He didn't acknowledge Azar's comments, but said Operation Warp Speed had "always intended to transition from holding second doses in reserve as manufacturing stabilizes and we gained confidence in the ability for a consistent flow of vaccines." he also said states had only ordered 75 percent of the vaccines available to them. Read more at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future 5 scathing cartoons about Trump's second impeachment
- NBC News
Jennifer Ryan faces charges of disorderly conduct and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry.
What happened: The officer attended the riots in Washington D.C. and is accused of "penetrating" the Capitol, Click2Houston reports. During a press conference on Wednesday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo discussed the officer in question. According to the New York Post, the officer — who was not named publicly by Acevedo — was placed on administrative leave.
- Yahoo News
Rather than triggering a reality check, for many, the fallout from last week’s events seems to have only reaffirmed the conspiratorial beliefs and manipulated outrage that drew them to Washington in the first place.
European governments said the credibility of their COVID-19 vaccination programmes was at risk on Friday after U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer announced a temporary slowdown of deliveries of its vaccines. Shots developed by Pfizer with its German partner BioNTech began being delivered in the European Union at the end of December, but around nine of the 27 EU governments complained of "insufficient" doses at a meeting this week, a participant said. Pfizer initially said deliveries were proceeding on schedule, but then on Friday announced there would be a temporary impact on shipments in late January to early February caused by changes to manufacturing processes to boost output.
- Associated Press
With a chainsaw in his car, Ahmed Abdelal tours the Gaza Strip, asking around for people wanting to cut down trees, regrow orchards or make way for construction. One of the few remaining woodcutters in the Palestinian territory, Abdelal, who learned woodcutting from his father, is struggling to scratch out a living in a traditional job that is less and less in demand. Job opportunities are rare in this Palestinian enclave wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, and so are green spaces.
- The Independent
Local newspapers turn on Lauren Boebert as 68 state politicians demand investigation into Capitol riot role
Lauren Boebert is under fire for sharing details about the location of the House speaker during the Capitol riots
- Associated Press
A 16-year-old boy has admitted fatally shooting his newborn daughter and leaving her body inside a fallen tree in the woods in southern Wisconsin, according to prosecutors. Logan Kruckenburg-Anderson, of Albany, is charged as an adult with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse. According to a criminal complaint, the teen took the infant shortly after she was born Jan. 5 to a wooded area in Albany, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southwest of Milwaukee, placed her inside a fallen tree and shot her twice in the head.
- The Week
FBI says over 100 people arrested for Capitol siege, including 'liberal activist,' Confederate flag bearer
FBI Director Christopher Wray, in his first public comments since the Jan. 6 violent siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump, said Thursday that law enforcement has arrested more than 100 people in connection with the assault and is aware of "an extensive amount of concerning online chatter" ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.Most of those arrested so far have been far-right militants, off-duty police, retired military personnel, GOP officials, QAnon adherents, and white supremacists. For example, the man photographed carrying a Confederate battle flag through the Capitol, Kevin Seefried, and his son, Hunter Seefried, surrendered to the FBI in Delaware on Thursday, the Justice Department said.Embed from Getty ImagesAuthorities also arrested "liberal activist" John Sullivan on Thursday, making him, Politico says, "the first person to be charged who appears to have been active in liberal causes." Sullivan, who filmed the siege, claims he was just following the rioters as a "journalist," but the FBI said his own video showed him to be a booster of the lawlessness and even an active participant.Trump supporters, including Rudy Giuliani, and conservative media outlets pointed to Sullivan's arrest to bolster their counterfactual claim that "antifa" or Black Lives Matter were actually behind the assault on the Capitol. But "even before his arrest, left wing activists had described concerns in that community, going back some time, that Sullivan was a provocateur working with others, including his brother James, who has ties to the Proud Boys and runs a pro-Trump organization," Marcy Wheeler notes at EmptyWheel.> pic.twitter.com/oRri9hyHGv> > — New York City Antifa (@NYCAntifa) January 7, 2021"Sullivan's presence in the Capitol, and his previous record of anti-Trump activism, has been the focus of frenzied attention in the right-wing media," Robert Mackey reports at The Intercept, while "left-wing organizers have been keen to stress that they ejected Sullivan from their ranks months ago." Since adopting the nom de guerre "Activist John" last summer, Mackey notes, Sullivan has been blacklisted by "left-wing organizers associated with Black Lives Matter and antifascism in Utah, California, and the Pacific Northwest" who say he's "either a right-wing infiltrator or a dangerously naive amateur."More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future 5 scathing cartoons about Trump's second impeachment
The United States stands by Taiwan and always will, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said following a call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who told her the island would continue to seek access to U.N. meetings. Craft had planned to visit Taipei this week, in the teeth of strong objections from China which views the island as its own territory.
- Yahoo News Video
In a recorded message released on Wednesday, President Trump said he has been briefed by the Secret Service on the threat of violence around President-elect Biden’s inauguration, and said the National Guard has been deployed so a safe transition could occur.
- Architectural Digest
When it came to the lighting in his home, Pardo drew inspiration from the insides of fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as sea creatures and machine parts.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Telegraph
'We are under siege': Bobi Wine says military raided home as he rejects 'rigged' Uganda election results
Soldiers jumped over the fence and briefly surrounded the home of opposition leader Bobi Wine outside of the capital Kampala on Friday, hours after the 38-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker rejected the results of a presidential election due to fraud. Early results from around a third of polling stations showed longtime president Yoweri Museveni largely leading with 65 per cent of the vote while Bobi Wine had 27 per cent, according to the electoral commission. But the challenger, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, rejected the results as a "complete sham" and accused authorities of stuffing ballots, preventing people from voting and intimidating others. "Countrymen and women, I am very confident that we have defeated the dictator. The people of Uganda will and must reject the blatant suppression of their will and their voice," Mr Wine told reporters at his home on Friday morning. "We are putting every legal, every constitutional and every non-violent option on the table," he told Reuters. Polling agents from his party, the National Unity Platform (NUP), were beaten and chased away in parts of northern and western Uganda, he added.
- The Independent
National Guard authorised to use lethal force at Capitol as they prepare for potential inauguration protests
Thousands of troops with lethal weapons will be guarding the inauguration as threats of pro-Trump demonstration and attacks intensify
- Associated Press
A Florida waitress who noticed bruises on an 11-year-old boy flashed him a handwritten note asking him if he needed help, and when he nodded yes, she called the police, authorities said. Orlando police credited Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress at Mrs. Potato Restaurant, with coming to the boy's aid on New Year's Eve when the child’s parents weren’t looking. Police took the boy to a hospital where doctors found bruises on his face, earlobes and arms.