President Trump declares North Korea state sponsor of terrorism

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 7:09 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a cabinet meeting at the White House on November 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. President Trump officially designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a cabinet meeting at the White House on November 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. President Trump officially designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

President Trump took his tough rhetoric on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the next level by stating his intention to list the country as a state sponsor of terror.

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“Today, the U.S. is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. (This) should have happened a long time ago — should have happened years ago,” the president announced while speaking at a Cabinet meeting.

Trump said North Korea “has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil.”

He also spoke about the late 22-year-old University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who died after spending a year and a half in a North Korean prison.

Warmbier was arrested at Pyongyang International airport in January 2016 after being accused of stealing a propaganda poster. He was charged with “anti-republic activities” and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

The Trump administration secured the college student’s release at the beginning of June 2017, and he was medically evacuated from the country back to the United States. He returned in a coma — which North Korean officials alleged that he slipped into after taking sleeping pills for botulism while in prison, though experts in the United States have treated that story with skepticism — and died just a few days later.

There is a question of whether or not Warmbier’s death could be classified as “willful killing, torture, or inhuman treatment,” which would place North Korea in violation of agreements such as the Geneva Convention.

The State Department currently lists three countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Sudan and Syria.

“Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act,” the State Department explains on its website. Countries that fall under those designations may face certain sanctions, which include “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.”

Any person or country that trades with those listed by the department as state sponsors of terrorism may also face penalties by way of sanctions.

Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un have not had a close relationship by any means.

The world leaders feuded publicly earlier in the month after Kim Jong-un called Trump an “old lunatic.” Trump responded by insinuating that the leader was “short and fat.”

While on a two-week foreign policy trip in Asia, Trump said the United States’ policy of “strategic patience” in dealing with North Korea was over. He made his comments in a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump’s tough rhetoric toward Kim reflects an earlier sentiment he expressed while calling Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man.”

“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail,” he wrote on Twitter.

While many focus on North Korea’s foreign policy technique of saber rattling, the country’s approach to domestic policy is also under scrutiny. The recent death of a defector raised additional questions about the state of the North Korean people’s health.

About a week ago, an unnamed North Korean soldier abandoned his post and began to run toward South Korea. It was the third defection of a North Korean soldier this year. He was shot more than 40 times by his fellow soldiers.

South Korean soldiers were able to crawl to the area where he lay and rescue the man. He was transported, in a helicopter belonging to the United Nations Command, to a hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

A surgeon who operated on the defector made a disturbing discovery in his digestive tract.

“In my over 20-year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook,” said Lee Cook-jong while explaining the flesh-colored parasites he found.

Parasitic worms, some over 1 foot long, in the man’s body put a spotlight on detrimental, government-backed approaches to health and agriculture in the country. Experts have pointed to North Korean farmers’ use of “night soil,” or human excrement, as fertilizer to explain the presence of the worms, which have been discovered in other defectors.

There is a perception in the country that “night soil” makes food taste better. The method has even been personally backed by Kim Jong-un himself.

“Although we do not have solid figures showing health conditions of North Korea, medical experts assume that parasite infection problems and serious health issues have been prevalent in the country,” explained Choi Min-Ho, a professor and parasitic specialist at Seoul National University College of Medicine.

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Mother crashed car into pole to prove to kids God is real, police say

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 9:24 PM

Bakari Warren, 25, is seen here in a mug shot. She’s jailed on a $22,000 bond on two charges of cruelty to children.
Gwinett County Sheriff’s Office
Bakari Warren, 25, is seen here in a mug shot. She’s jailed on a $22,000 bond on two charges of cruelty to children.(Gwinett County Sheriff’s Office)

Police say a mother intentionally crashed her SUV into a pole to prove to her two small children that God is real.

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Investigators say Bakari Warren, 25, told officers after the crash that she did it on purpose to show her kids that if they believe, God would protect them.

The crash and the 5- and 7-year-old kids’ explanation were all caught on camera. 

Police say Warren was driving northbound on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard when she crossed into the southbound lanes and drove head on into a concrete pole.

Sitting in a police car, her children explained what happened before the crash.

“You think she did it on purpose?” the officer asked.

>> Related: 12-year-old boy missing after getting on wrong school bus found near his home

“Yeah because she turned. Her eyes was closed and she was saying, blah, blah, blah, ‘I love God,’” one daughter said. “She didn’t want us to just have a car accident. She wanted us to know that God is real."

Police said Warren told her children to buckle up their seat belts just before she accelerated into the pole. Warren was frisked and handcuffed right after she got out of the SUV.

“When the officers asked the driver of the vehicle what had happened her first statement was to check her Facebook, and it would explain what happened,” Norcross police Sgt. Eric Butynski said.

>> Related: Missing Iowa family of 4 found dead in Mexico 

Nothing was found directly referencing the incident on what appeared to be her Facebook page, but police say she later gave the same reasons as her kids -- to prove that God will protect them. 

No one was hurt in the accident, but officers say it could have been much worse.

“It could have been a lot worse. It could have been heavier traffic at the time, she could have hit the pole at such an angle that she did more damage to the car,” Butynski said.

Warren remains in jail on $22,000 bond. She is charged with two counts of child cruelty. 

>> Related: College student seriously injured while on spring break in Cancun 

The children are now with their grandparents

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Justice Dept. announces proposal to ban bump stocks ahead of anti-gun rally in DC

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 10:25 PM

What is a Bump Stock?

The Department of Justice announced a proposal Friday to ban bump stocks, device that essentially convert semiautomatic weapons into machine guns. The announcement came just a day ahead of the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington.

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Thousands of young people are expected to converge on the nation’s capital to demand gun control following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month that left 17 people dead.

President Donald Trump announced the new proposal on Twitter. “We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns,” the president tweeted.

>> Related: What is a bump stock, how does it work and is it legal?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement on the proposed ban, referring to the Las Vegas massacre in October that left 58 people dead. The shooter used bump stocks on a number of weapons to increase their firepower.

“After the senseless attack in Las Vegas, this proposed rule is a critical step in our effort to reduce the threat of gun violence,” Sessions said.

>> Related: Trump sends memo to DOJ asking for bump stock ban after Parkland massacre

On Feb. 20, Trump issued a memorandum instructing Session to ban bump stocks. The proposal announced on Friday is a response to that memorandum.

A bump stock is installed on an AK-47 and its movement is demonstrated at Good Guys Gun and Range on February 21, 2018 in Orem, Utah. The bump stock is a device when installed allows a semi-automatic to fire at a rapid rate much like a fully automatic gun. (George Frey/Getty Images)

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs year-round daylight saving time measure

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 9:58 PM


Florida Gov. Rick Scott is signing off on a measure that would let Florida stay on daylight saving time all year long.

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Scott on Friday signed 74 bills into law, including the "Sunshine Protection Act." The measure won't take effect unless Congress also changes federal law.

But if Congress were to go along, Floridians would no longer set back their clock an hour each November.

>> Related: Florida Senate passes bill approving year-round Daylight Saving Time

That would translate into later sunrises and sunsets from November to March.

Scott in a statement said he supported the move because it would help the state's tourism industry. He said it would allow residents and visitors to "enjoy everything our beautiful state has to offer later in the day."

>> Related: Sen. Rubio files federal legislation to make daylight saving time permanent

The Florida PTA had asked for a veto because more children would go to school in the morning in the dark.

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Missing Iowa family of 4 found dead in Mexico

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 4:47 PM

Missing Iowa Family Found Dead In Mexico

A Creston, Iowa, family of four that was previously reported missing in Mexico has been found dead.

KCCI reported that 41-year-old Kevin Sharp, his wife, 38-year-old Amy Sharp, and their children, 12-year-old Sterling and 7-year-old Adrianna were found dead on a tourist condo complex in Tulum, Mexico, a tourist area. The Associated Press reported that the developer of the complex declined to comment.

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“The Sharps have been located. They were found last night in their condo deceased,” a relative named Ashli Peterson wrote on Facebook, according to The Des Moines Register. “There was no foul play! At this time that is all the information we have. 

“Please respect the family at this time as they go through the grieving process. Thank you for all the posts, shares, and kind words,” the post said

Tulum is in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. A March 16 travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State said there was a level 2 advisory in the state due to crime. There were no restrictions on U.S. government employees for travel in that state, which has other tourist areas, such as Cancun and Cozumel.

On Thursday, relatives filed a missing persons report through the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, KCCI reportedAccording to Peterson’s original post, the family had not been in contact with relatives after letting them know they made it to their condo safely.

Related: U.S. issues level 4 ‘do not travel’ advisory for 5 states in Mexico

Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer said the family had not boarded their flight from Cancun, Mexico, back to the U.S.

“It’s a very sad day for the Sharp family and the city of Creston as a whole,” Ver Meer said. “We’ll work through this together.”

Ver Meer said there was no sign of traumatic injury and autopsies are being conducted in Mexico. Results are pending.  

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