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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

May 15, 2018 - 8:04 PM

North Korea threatens to cancel US summit over drills

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Wednesday cancelled a high-level meeting with South Korea and threatened to scrap a historic summit next month between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over military exercises between Seoul and Washington that Pyongyang has long claimed are invasion rehearsals.

The surprise declaration, which came in a pre-dawn dispatch in North Korea's state media, appears to cool what had been an unusual flurry of outreach from a country that last year conducted a provocative series of weapons tests that had many fearing the region was on the edge of war. It's still unclear, however, whether the North intends to scuttle all diplomacy or merely wants to gain leverage ahead of the planned June 12 talks between Kim and Trump.

The statement by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency was released hours before the two Koreas were to meet at a border village to discuss how to implement their leaders' recent agreements to reduce military tensions along their heavily fortified border and improve their overall ties.

It called the two-week Max Thunder drills, which began Monday and reportedly include about 100 aircraft, an "intended military provocation" and an "apparent challenge" to an April summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, when the leaders met on their border in their countries' third-ever summit talks since their formal division in 1948. KCNA said the U.S. aircraft mobilized for the drills include nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and stealth F-22 fighter jets, two of the U.S. military assets it has previously said are aimed at launching nuclear strikes on the North.

"The United States must carefully contemplate the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit amid the provocative military ruckus that it's causing with South Korean authorities," the North said Wednesday. "We'll keenly monitor how the United States and South Korean authorities will react."

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4 states decide primaries; Trump's Senate pick wins in Pa.

Tuesday's primary elections will begin to settle swing state Pennsylvania's chaotic congressional landscape after a court fight ended with redrawn districts just three months ago.

Pennsylvania primary voters selected President Donald Trump's pick to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. Idaho voters are set to pick their Republican gubernatorial nominee, while heavily Republican Nebraska and Democratic-leaning Oregon are also holding primaries Tuesday.

A look at some of the key races:

PENNSYLVANIA SCRAMBLE

Republicans outnumber Democrats in Pennsylvania's House delegation, though a new congressional map is making the state a focal point of Democrats' effort to reclaim House control in November.

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. NORTH KOREA THREATENS TO CANCEL US SUMMIT

Pyongyang cancels a high-level meeting with South Korea and threatens to scrap a historic summit next month between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over military exercises between Seoul and Washington.

2. WHY GAZA HOSPITALS ARE STRUGGLING TO COPE WITH HIGH CASUALTY TOLL

Patients with gunshot wounds filled wards and hallways in Gaza's under-equipped and overwhelmed main hospital, with dozens still waiting in line for surgery a day after Israeli soldiers shot and killed 59 Palestinians and wounded hundreds in mass protests on the Gaza border.

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CIA nominee toughens interrogation stance, picks up support

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's CIA nominee appeared to be on a path toward confirmation as she picked up support from key Democrats Tuesday and toughened her public stance against harsh interrogation.

"With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken," Gina Haspel said in written answers to more than 60 questions released by the Senate intelligence committee.

Haspel, who was involved in supervising a secret CIA detention site in Thailand, wrote that she had learned "hard lessons since 9-11." In comments aimed at clarifying her position on now-banned torture techniques, Haspel said that she would "refuse to undertake any proposed activity that is contrary to my moral and ethical values."

"I do not support use of enhanced interrogation techniques for any purpose," Haspel wrote.

The Senate intelligence committee is expected to vote Wednesday to recommend that the full Senate confirm her.

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Ex-CIA employee probed over leak likely facing new charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prosecutor says the government hopes to bring new charges within weeks against a former CIA employee who is jailed on child pornography charges but is also a target of a probe of a massive leak of cyber hacking tools, according to court documents reviewed Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Laroche alluded to a "broader investigation" and a grand jury probe unrelated to child pornography charges as he informed a Manhattan judge last Friday that the government was hopeful it would bring new charges against 29-year-old Joshua Adam Schulte in about a month and a half.

"Because of the nature of the underlying investigation, that requires consultation with people outside of our office, which we are doing as quickly as we can. We're trying to get that done," Laroche told U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty. "We're consulting with a lot of folks that are not within our office."

The cryptic description led Assistant Federal Defender Sabrina Shroff, who entered the case in March, to demand more.

"Are they secret charges that I'm not allowed to know about? What are these charges?" Shroff said, adding that she wanted to know of possible charges, whether they be sedition or something else. "Are they charging him with espionage?"

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Judge: Special counsel had authority to prosecute Manafort

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a federal judge in Washington ruled Tuesday.

The decision was a setback for Manafort in his defence against charges of money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to his Ukrainian political work. Manafort had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference.

But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed.

Citing Manafort's years of work in Ukraine, his prominent role on the Trump campaign and his publicized connections to Russian figures, Jackson said it was "logical and appropriate" for Mueller's team to scrutinize him as part of their investigation into Russian election meddling and possible co-ordination with Trump associates.

"Given what was being said publicly, the Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government," Jackson wrote.

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Trump pays return visit to recovering first lady at hospital

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump visited his wife, Melania, in the hospital Tuesday as she continues to recover from a kidney procedure.

Trump said earlier Tuesday that the first lady is "doing really well" and that he expected her back at the White House before the end of the week. He arrived by helicopter at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington on Tuesday afternoon and stayed for about 90 minutes before returning to the White House. He also visited Monday after doctors performed the "embolization" procedure.

"Melania is doing really well. She's watching us right now," Trump said Tuesday as he spoke near the Capitol at an annual tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

"And I want to thank the incredible doctors," Trump added. "They did a fantastic job."

At the Capitol later, where he joined Republican senators at their weekly lunch, Trump reiterated that his wife is "really doing well."

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As Gaza death toll rises, Israeli tactics face scrutiny

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's high-tech military is coming under scathing international criticism for its use of live fire that killed scores of Palestinian protesters across a border — even if the protesting Gazans were burning tires, launching fiery kites into Israeli farms and in some cases trying to rip apart a border fence.

The Israeli army has staunchly defended its actions. It points to the violent history of Gaza's Hamas rulers, says there have been bombing and shooting attacks against its forces and fears a mass border breach. It also says that in the open terrain of the Gaza border, with troops easily exposed, its military options are limited.

But with the death toll rising, and hundreds of unarmed people among the casualties, the criticism is mounting.

Here is a closer look at the debate over Israel's use of live fire:

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Facebook: We're better at policing nudity than hate speech

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Getting rid of racist, sexist and other hateful remarks on Facebook is more challenging than weeding out other types of unacceptable posts because computer programs still stumble over the nuances of human language, the company revealed Tuesday.

Facebook also released statistics that quantified how pervasive fake accounts have become on its influential service, despite a long-standing policy requiring people to set up accounts under their real-life identities.

From October to December alone, Facebook disabled nearly 1.3 billion accounts — and that doesn't even count all the times the company blocked bogus profiles before they could be set up.

Had the company not shut down all those fake accounts, its audience of monthly users would have swelled beyond its current 2.2 billion and probably created more potentially offensive material for Facebook to weed out.

Facebook's self-assessment showed its screening system is far better at scrubbing graphic violence, gratuitous nudity and terrorist propaganda. Automated tools detected 86 per cent to 99.5 per cent of the violations Facebook identified in those categories.

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Who will referee billion-dollar sports betting industry?

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, the race is on to see who will referee the multibillion-dollar business of gambling on pro and college games.

The NFL, NBA and others want Congress to set uniform, nationwide rules on sports gambling for all states, saying the integrity of athletics is at stake. And an influential Republican on Capitol Hill, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, quickly announced plans to push for such legislation.

But states are already moving quickly to enact their own laws, with some legislators wanting fans to be able to place wagers by the time football season starts this fall. And there are serious doubts Congress wants to get involved.

"Sports are played on a national and sometimes international stage, crossing state borders and involving residents of numerous municipalities," said Rummy Pandit, a gambling analyst with New Jersey's Stockton University. "From that standpoint, federal regulation of sports betting makes sense. But the federal government has not historically been involved in the day-to-day regulation and oversight of gaming."

For years the major sports leagues argued that gambling on games would lead to match-fixing and point-shaving. Now that they lost the court battle with Monday's landmark ruling, many suspect that they are now pushing for federal legislation not for high-minded reasons, but because they see it as the easiest way to get a cut of the proceeds.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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