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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Recording of crying immigrant children separated from parents at border sparks outrage

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 8:46 AM

VIDEO: Audio Recording of Children Being Separated From Parents At Border Facility

A recording of crying immigrant children who reportedly were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border circulated online Monday, sparking outrage among critics of the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration.

>> Click here to listen

>> Jamie Dupree: Trump to meet House GOP amid furor over immigrant families

The eight-minute audio clip, first published Monday by ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news site, was recorded at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection center last week, the outlet reported. Children can be heard calling for "Mami" and "Papa" as one girl asks to call her aunt. One man, identified by ProPublica as a Border Patrol agent, can be heard saying of the sobs: "Well, we have an orchestra here. What's missing is a conductor."

>> Immigration: Trump administration defends 'zero tolerance' policy (live updates)

According to ProPublica, the person who secretly recorded the audio gave it to civil rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who then passed it along to the news site.

>> All 5 living first ladies speak out on separation of immigrant children, parents at border

According to The Associated Press, the "zero tolerance" policy, which started last month, "sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally," leading to more adults in jail, separated from their children. 

>> Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy: 4 things to know

At a White House press briefing Monday afternoon, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she had not heard the recording, which one reporter played on speaker phone during the briefing. She said the children are treated humanely and given meals, education and medical care. 

>> Read more trending news 

Nielsen said recordings and photos from the border facilities that have circulated online "reflect the focus of those who post such pictures and narratives."

Read more here and here.

'Zero Tolerance' Immigration Policy: Why Are Children Being Separated From Their Families

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Ohio Senators Portman, Brown criticize separating kids from parents at border

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 12:57 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 12:57 PM

Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman
Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman

Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, and Republican Steve Stivers of Upper Arlington sharply criticized the Trump administration for separating children from parents trying to cross the border in the United States.

In a statement Tuesday, Portman, R-Ohio, repeated what he has said during the past few weeks, saying "is counter to our values. We can have strong border security without separating families at the border. They can be kept together and dealt with as a family unit.”

“The administration should change course immediately and use its executive authority to keep families together and expedite their cases,” Portman said. “If those changes aren’t made, Congress should act quickly on a legislative solution to fix this problem.”

RELATED: Hundreds of children wait in border patrol facility in Texas

“I’m working with my colleagues to develop a compassionate solution that upholds our immigration laws and keeps families together while their cases are being processed,” Portman said.

Brown, D-Ohio, who is seeking re-election against Republican Jim Renacci, said “all children should be treated with compassion. Tearing families apart is wrong and will not fix our broken immigration system.”

Stivers, who chairs the House Republican re-election effort, called on the administration “to stop needlessly separating children from their parents. If the policy is not changed, I will support other means to stop unnecessary separation of children from their parents.”

RELATED: Before Trump policy, immigrant families arrested at border were detained together

The spectacle of crying children being taken from their parents produced an avalanche of criticism and queasiness from most Democrats, a growing number of Republicans, and pro-Republican business organizations as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The House is expected to consider two competing immigration bills this week which could include language preventing the border separations. But there are deep doubts either bill can pass the House or Senate in part because Republicans are so divided on the issue and Democrats believe neither bill solves the problem.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said what Trump “is doing to these families and children” is “abhorrent,” adding “we’re seeing faith-based communities, human rights groups, and even Republicans calling out the president for this immoral and destructive policy.”

“He can end this with a phone call but refuses to do so,” Ryan said, referring to Trump.

What You Need to Know: 'Zero Tolerance' Immigration Policy

In an appearance on MSNBC Monday night, Ohio Gov. John Kasich “this is not the America you and I have known throughout our lifetime here.”

Renacci, a House member from Wadsworth, said "protecting both American jobs and our security by securing our borders and fixing our broken immigration system must be a top priority," and urged swift passage of a bill to "enforce America's immigration laws" and prevent "the separation of children from their parents on our border."

Democrat Joyce Beatty of Columbus, called the Trump policy “immoral” and urged the House Republican leadership to “work on comprehensive solutions to fix our broken immigration system.”

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, solidly backed Trump saying “by choosing to cross the border illegally – and often in dangerous circumstances – illegal immigrants are putting their children at risk.”

“No one likes to see the images we have seen, but it's important to remember that this is not a new policy or new phenomenon at our southern border,” Johnson said.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, said “our country has great compassion for those who come to our nation seeking a better life for their family and join the American way of life. Yet, we are also a nation of laws.”

“Our southern border has become a hub of drug and human traffickers, preying on Americans and immigrants alike, and the current 

President to meet members of Congress tonight

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

By DUSTIN WEAVER and ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Capitol Hill frantically searched on Tuesday for ways to end the administration’s policy of separating families after illegal border crossings, ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss broader immigration legislation.

Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, announced they were introducing bills to stop the practice amid a public outcry over the administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to illegal crossings.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced legislation that the White House said it was reviewing, and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also introduced a measure.

Both bills were offered as alternatives in case broader GOP immigration legislation heading for a vote this week fails, as is likely. “This becomes a backup proposal,” Meadows told reporters at the White House.

Trump’s meeting late Tuesday with House Republicans comes as lawmakers in both parties are up in arms after days of news reports showing images of children being held at border facilities in cages and an audio recording of a young child pleading for his “Papa.”

Watch Video from Inside the Border Protection's Processing Detention Center in Texas

The issue boiled over Tuesday at a House hearing on an unrelated subject when protesters with babies briefly shut down proceedings.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, teared up as he pleaded with Republicans on the panel to end what he called “internment camps.”

“We need you, those children need you —and I am talking directly to my Republican colleagues— we need you to stand up to President Donald Trump,” he said.

Under the current policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution — a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Obama administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May.

The House is already embroiled in an election-year struggle over immigration legislation that threatens to hurt Republicans in November.

Democrats have seized on the family separation issue. And now, Republicans are increasingly joining them in their call to stop separating families.

“While cases are pending, families should stay together,” tweeted Cruz, who is in an unexpectedly tough re-election battle. He introduced his own bill to speed up court proceedings to no more than 14 days. “Children belong with their families.”

Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton called for an immediate end to the “ugly and inhumane practice” of separation. “It’s never acceptable to use kids as bargaining chips in political process.” Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts said he was “against using parental separation as a deterrent to illegal immigration.”

“The time is now for the White House to end the cruel, tragic separations of families,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

From afar, ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted, “The administration’s current family separation policy is an affront to the decency of the American people and contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded. The administration has the power to rescind this policy. It should do so now.”

The Trump administration insists the family separations are required under the law. But after signaling Monday that it would oppose any fix aimed solely at addressing that issue, the White House said Tuesday it was reviewing the emergency legislation being introduced by Cruz to keep migrant families together.

The senator’s bill would add more federal immigration judges, authorize new temporary shelters to house migrant families, speed the processing of asylum cases and require that families that cross the border illegally be kept together, absent criminal conduct or threats to the welfare of any children.

At a White House briefing Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declared, “Congress alone can fix it.” That line has been echoed by others in the administration, including Trump, who has falsely blamed a law passed by Democrats for the “zero tolerance” approach to prosecutions of families crossing the border.

Two immigration bills under consideration in the House could address the separations, but the outlook for passage is dim. Conservatives say the compromise legislation that GOP leaders helped negotiate with moderates is inadequate.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he’s skeptical that even a full-throated endorsement from Trump will be enough to get the compromise bill through the House.

The compromise bill shifts away from the nation’s longtime preference for family immigration to a new system that prioritizes entry based on merits and skills. It beefs up border security, clamps down on illegal entries and reinforces other immigration laws.

To address the rise of families being separated at the border, the measure proposes keeping children in detention with their parents, undoing 2-decade-old rules that limit the time minors can be held in custody.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte R-Va., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is reworking the family separation provision in the compromise bill, a GOP aide said Tuesday.

Faced with the prospect of gridlock in the House, senators appear willing to take matters into their own hands.

John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican leader, said Senate Republicans are working on language to address the family separations that could receive a floor vote, potentially as part of a spending bill package.

“I don’t think the answer to family separation is to not enforce the law. I think the answer to family separation is: Don’t separate families while you’re enforcing the law,” Cornyn told reporters. “It’s all within our power, and people have to overcome their desire to preserve an issue to campaign on.”

GOP senators including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine also said they’ve been discussing family separation legislation.

The administration, meanwhile, is hoping to force Democrats to vote for the bills or bear some of the political cost in November’s midterm elections. Democrats brushed aside that pressure.

“As everyone who has looked at this agrees, this was done by the president, not Democrats. He can fix it tomorrow if he wants to, and if he doesn’t want to, he should own up to the fact that he’s doing it,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

___

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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Couple raises more than $4.7 million to help reunite migrant children, parents

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 1:01 PM

VIDEO: Audio Recording of Children Being Separated From Parents At Border Facility

A California couple has raised millions of dollars to help families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

>> Read more trending news

Charlotte and Dave Willner told the San Jose Mercury News that they launched their Facebook fundraiser, called "Reunite an immigrant parent with their child,” on Saturday morning after seeing a photo of a 2-year-old Honduran girl sobbing as an official patted down her mother at the border.

A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status.(John Moore/Getty Images)

Dave Willner told the Mercury News that the fundraiser “was the closest thing we could do to hugging that kid.”

The fundraiser was launched with a goal of $1,500, but by Tuesday afternoon it had garnered more than $4.7 million in donations. For a few hours Sunday, donations were coming in at a rate of $4,000 per minute, David Willner said in a post on Facebook

The money will go toward the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a Texas nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees.

Among those who donated to the Willners’ fundraiser are Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Politico reported. The Willners are previously employees of the tech giant. A company spokesperson declined to say how much they donated.

>> Trump border policy: How to help immigrant children separated from families

“These aren’t kids we don’t have to care about. They’re like our kids,” Charlotte Willner told the Mercury News. “When we look at the faces of these children, we can’t help but see our own children’s faces.”

The national debate over immigration has ramped up in recent weeks after reports surfaced that authorities on the U.S.-Mexico border are separating migrant children from their parents as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to deal with people who come into the country illegally.

>> Is the immigration separation policy new, where did it come from, where are the detention centers?

The Trump administration in April ordered prosecutors to charge every person suspected of illegally crossing the border. Children traveling with the adults have been separated and placed in detention centers.

The president has repeatedly called for Democrats to negotiate with Republicans to address the issue after falsely claiming that the party is behind laws that mandate the separation of children from parents at the border. No such law exists.

Related

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Mom: Bullies ‘killed my son’ by pushing him into swimming pool

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 10:24 AM

Virginia Teen Drowns In Swimming Pool, Mother Blames Bullies

A teen in Henrico, Virginia, has drowned after his mother said several high school bullies pushed him into the deep end of the pool, according to his mother.

Angie Morton told WWBT her son, 16-year-old Vernard Morton, had a learning disability and was often bullied.

In a Facebook post, Angie Morton said bullies made her son jump into the deep end of the pool.

On Friday, Angie Morton said her son was invited to hang out at a local swimming pool, WRIC reports.

“He just wanted friends, and he figured if they (are) hanging with me, maybe they'll be my friend,” said Angie Morton.

>> Read more trending news

Almost immediately after Vernard Morton arrived, he was pushed into the deep end of the pool, allegedly hit his head and sank underwater, Angie Morton said.

“My son died because these little boys dared him and forced him into the pool,” said Angie Morton. “I think someone killed my son, because they say everyone ran and left my son in the water.”

WWBT reports that Vernard Morton died at the hospital on Saturday morning and the incident is under investigation. 

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