US warns Russia, others on enforcing North Korea sanctions
SINGAPORE — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Russia, China and other countries on Saturday against any violation of international sanctions on North Korea that could reduce pressure on the North to abandon its nuclear weapons. Pompeo’s comments came on the heels of a new United Nations report that found North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and is violating U.N. sanctions, including through illicit ship-to-ship transfers of oil.
Speaking on the sidelines of an Asian security forum in Singapore, Pompeo told reporters that the U.S. has new, credible reports that Russia is violating U.N. sanctions by allowing joint ventures with North Korean companies and issuing new permits for North Korean guest workers. He said Washington would take “very seriously” any violations, and called for them to be roundly condemned and reversed.
“If these reports prove accurate, and we have every reason to believe that they are, that would be in violation,” Pompeo said, noting that the U.N. Security Council had voted unanimously in favor of the sanctions. “I want to remind every nation that has supported these resolutions that this is a serious issue and something we will discuss with Moscow.”
“We expect the Russians and all countries to abide to the U.N. Security Council resolutions and enforce sanctions on North Korea,” he said. “Any violation that detracts from the world’s goal of finally, fully denuclearizing North Korea would be something that America would take very seriously.”
Later Saturday, during a group photo of the ASEAN Regional Forum ministerial meeting, Pompeo went to greet North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. They shook hands and briefly exchanged smiles and a few words. Pompeo then went back to his place.
Weather to bring renewed fire danger to Northern California
SAN FRANCISCO — Crews battling deadly Northern California wildfires braced for a weekend of windy, hot weather that could drive the flames into new areas and threaten more homes.
The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings of critical fire weather conditions through Saturday night, saying a series of dry low-pressure systems passing through the region could bring wind gusts of up to 35 mph that could turn small fires or even sparks into racing walls of flame.
“This is a particularly dangerous situation with extremely low humidity and high winds. New fires will grow rapidly out of control, in some cases people may not be able to evacuate safely in time should a fire approach,” the weather service said in its bulletin for the Mendocino area north of San Francisco.
As a precaution, new evacuations were called Friday for an area of Mendocino and Lake counties where week-old twin fires have destroyed 41 homes and threaten about 9,000 more.
The fire has charred an area of the forested, rural area five times the size of San Francisco and is only 30 percent contained. Thousands of people remain evacuated.
Russian airline says 18 killed in Siberian helicopter crash
MOSCOW — A Russian helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff in Siberia on Saturday, killing all 18 people aboard, its airline said.
Preliminary information indicated that the aircraft’s blades collided with another helicopter that had taken off beforehand from the same pad in Vankor, above the Arctic Circle about 2,600 kilometers (1600 miles) northeast of Moscow, UTair said in a statement.
There were 15 passengers and three crew aboard the Mi-8 helicopter, the airline said. The second helicopter landed safely, it added said.
Russian news reports said all the passengers were believed to have been working for a subsidiary of the state oil company Rosneft.
UTair, one of Russia’s largest airlines, operates an extensive fleet of helicopters serving Siberian oil fields as well as fixed-wing flights within Russia and to international destinations, mostly in former Soviet republics.
GOP grumbles as Donald Trump reshapes midterm campaigns
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s strategy of becoming aggressively involved in the midterm elections is prompting concern among some Republicans who worry he’s complicating the political calculus for GOP candidates trying to outrun his popularity.
Those Republicans worry their statewide candidates may rise or fall based on Trump’s standing, muddling their path to maintain control of Congress.
But Trump has no plans to step out of the spotlight. He will hold a rally Saturday in Ohio and plans to host two fundraisers at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey, next week, benefitting Senate and House candidates, according to a campaign official with knowledge of the president’s events. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details about the fundraisers that haven’t yet been publicly released.
The president is casting himself as the star of the midterms, eagerly inserting himself into hotly contested primaries, headlining rallies in pivotal swing states and increasing his fundraising efforts for Republicans. Last week, Trump agreed to donate a portion of his reelection fund to 100 GOP candidates running in competitive House and Senate races.
He’s expected to be even more aggressive in the fall. White House officials say he’s reserving time on his schedule for a midterm travel and fundraising schedule likely to surpass that of former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Pentagon redoing space defenses, but will Trump demand more?
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wants a Space Force, a new military service he says is needed to ensure American dominance in space. But the idea is gaining little traction at the Pentagon, where the president’s defense chief, Jim Mattis, says it would add burdensome bureaucracy and unwanted costs.
The Pentagon acknowledges a need to revamp its much-criticized approach to defending U.S. economic and security interests in space, and it is moving in that direction. But it’s unclear whether this will satisfy Trump, who wants to go even further by creating a separate military space service.
The administration intends to announce next week the results of a Pentagon study that is expected to call for creating a new military command — U.S. Space Command — to consolidate space warfighting forces and making other organizational changes short of establishing a separate service, which only Congress can do. Any legislative proposal to create a separate service would likely not be put on the table until next year.
Mattis, who said prior to Trump’s “Space Force” announcement in June that he opposes creating a new branch of the military for space, said afterward that this would require “a lot of detailed planning.”
Mattis is allied on this with key Republicans on Capitol Hill including Sen. James Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who opposes a separate Space Force but is open to creating a Space Command. The command would coordinate the use of space forces of existing services, such as those that operate military satellites, but would not be a separate service.
All eyes on ‘right-hand man’ as Manafort trial resumes
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The bookkeeper said Paul Manafort submitted fake financial documents. The accountant testified he hid foreign bank accounts. And a series of businessmen said he used international wire transfers to pay for millions of dollars in luxury items.
On Friday, a tax preparer even admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a sham loan to lower Manafort’s tax bill.
But the most critical moment in the former Trump campaign chairman’s financial fraud trial will likely arrive next week with the testimony of his longtime associate Rick Gates, whom witnesses have described as Manafort’s “right-hand man” and defense attorneys are looking to blame for any crimes.
Gates, who also served in a senior role in President Donald Trump’s campaign, has been a key cooperator for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after he cut a plea deal earlier this year. During that process, he admitted to two felony charges, but his testimony will mark the first time he’ll detail those crimes face-to-face with his former boss and mentor.
The trial, in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, is the first of Mueller’s prosecutions to reach a jury. But lawyers have made no mention of Trump or possible campaign coordination with the Kremlin, the central question behind the special counsel’s investigation. Still, Trump has made clear his interest in the case, suggesting in a tweet last week that Manafort was being treated worse than gangster Al Capone. And Manafort’s decision to stand trial instead of cooperation has raised speculation that he may be looking for a pardon.
Thailand’s rescued cave boys end stay at Buddhist temple
MAE SAI, Thailand — With their heads bowed and wearing orange robes, the members of the boys’ soccer team rescued from almost three weeks trapped in a cave in northern Thailand on Saturday completed their time as novice Buddhist monks.
About 300 people gathered for the ceremony on a rainy morning that saw the boys leave temple life to return to their families. Those present gave alms — flowers, food, money — as a gesture of their religious devotion.
The July 25 ordination of 11 boys of the Wild Boars soccer team along with the 25-year-old coach was especially dedicated to a former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, who died while diving during a volunteer mission to supply the cave with oxygen tanks essential to a successful rescue. A twelfth boy did not go through the religious ritual because he isn’t Buddhist.
At the temple near Thailand’s mountainous border with Myanmar, the boys and their coach sat barefooted in a large pavilion in their orange robes. The adults sitting behind them wore white.
With heads bowed, they prayed, fidgeted and occasionally yawned as monks chanted sacred texts. They then placed new monks’ robes on a table in front of a large photo of Saman.
5-year drought raises questions over Israel’s water strategy
KFAR YUVAL, Israel — For years, public service announcements warned Israelis to save water: Take shorter showers. Plant resilient gardens. Conserve. Then Israel invested heavily in desalination technology and professed to have solved the problem by tapping into the abundant waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The once ubiquitous conservation warnings vanished.
Now, a five-year drought is challenging that strategy, as farmers struggle and the country’s most important bodies of water shrink.
It’s a confounding situation for a country that places itself on the forefront of desalination technology in an arid region, where water is a key geostrategic issue that has its own clauses in peace agreements.
“Nobody expected five years of drought in a row, so despite our desalination capacity, it’s still a very, very grave situation,” said Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of energy.
Some say Israel’s technological prowess may not be enough to overcome the forces of nature.
Las Vegas gunman became unstable but didn’t raise suspicions
LAS VEGAS — In the months before unleashing a hail of bullets into a Las Vegas concert crowd, Stephen Paddock burned through more than $1.5 million, became obsessed with guns and increasingly unstable, and distanced himself from his girlfriend and family, according to an investigative report released Friday.
With those revelations, police announced they were closing their 10-month investigation without a definitive answer for why Paddock, a high-stakes gambler, amassed an arsenal of weapons and carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“By all accounts, Stephen Paddock was an unremarkable man whose movements leading up to Oct. 1 didn’t raise any suspicion,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. “An interview with his doctor indicated signs of a troubled mind, but no troubling behavior that would trigger a call to law enforcement.”
Paddock left no manifesto or “even a note to answer questions” about his motive for a rampage that killed 58 people and injured more than 800 others, Lombardo told reporters.
The FBI is expected to release its final investigative report, including a psychological profile of the gunman, later this year, Lombardo said, noting that authorities want to leave “no stone unturned.”
Warren: Criminal justice system ‘racist’…’front to back’
NEW ORLEANS — Potential Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren delivered what she called “the hard truth about our criminal justice system: It’s racist … I mean front to back.”
While speaking at a historically black college, the Massachusetts senator identified some of the system’s failures: disproportionate arrests of African-Americans for petty drug possession; an overloaded public defender system; and state laws that keep convicted felons from voting even after their sentences are complete.
Warren was participating in a Q&A session hosted by Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond at Dillard University in New Orleans.
She was among several possible Democratic White House contenders who spoke Friday at Netroots Nation, an annual conference for progressives. She was the only leading Democrat to appear at Dillard.
The stop is the latest sign of Warren’s effort to forge ties beyond her largely white political base in Massachusetts and avoid the fate of fellow progressive icon Bernie Sanders, who struggled to win over African-Americans during his failed bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.