Trump says Iran ‘working with North Korea’ after ballistic missile test

President Trump accused Iran of collaborating with North Korea to strengthen their missile technology Saturday evening in a Twitter post criticizing the 2015 nuclear agreement between the U.S., Iran and five other nations.

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“Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel,” Trump wrote. “They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”

Nonproliferation experts have long suspected North Korea and Iran are sharing know-how when it comes to their rogue missile programs. Earlier this month, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier” that Iran would “certainly be someone who would be willing to pay” for that expertise.

“The North Koreans have a long history of being proliferators and sharing their knowledge, their technology, their capacities around the world,” Pompeo said. “As North Korea continues to improve its ability to do longer-range missiles and to put nuclear weapons on those missiles, it is very unlikely if they get that capability that they wouldn’t share it with lots of folks.”

Trump posted the tweet hours after Iran claimed to have successfully tested a new ballistic missile capable of reaching parts of the Middle East, including Israel.

The missile, known as the Khoramshahr, has a range of 1,250 miles and is based on a North Korean design. A similar missile was tested in late January and blew up 600 miles after launch.

The Iranian test-launch constituted a direct challenge to Trump, who last month signed a bill imposing mandatory penalties on those involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.

Trump has vowed repeatedly to take a tougher line toward Iran than his predecessor, threatening at various times to renegotiate or even dismantle the nuclear deal, and shoot Iranian boats out of the water if they provoke U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.

On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he had made a decision about whether or not to pull out of the nuclear deal, but declined to say what it was.

Earlier this week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed Iran would strengthen its missile capabilities without asking for any country’s permission, just days after Trump accused Iran in an address to the United Nations General Assembly of exporting violence to Yemen, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East.

In that speech, Trump criticized the nuclear deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

“Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States,” the president proclaimed, “and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”

The nuclear deal between Iran and world powers does not strictly prohibit Iran from developing missiles but after the deal came into effect last year, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution calling on Iran not to take any actions related to ballistic missiles “designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons” for eight years.

Iranian officials have argued that the measure only applies to missiles specifically designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Courtesy, Fox News

$1B OK’d for Puerto Rico hurricane aid, but governor says he’ll seek more

Federal aid began pouring into Puerto Rico on Saturday, welcomed by local officials who praised the Trump administration’s response to the devastating effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

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In northwest Puerto Rico, people began returning to their homes after a spillway eased pressure on a dam that cracked after more than a foot of rain fell in the wake of the hurricane.

The opening of the island’s main port in San Juan allowed 11 ships to bring in 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, dozens of generators and food. Dozens more shipments are expected in upcoming days.

The federal aid effort is racing to stem a growing humanitarian crisis in towns left without fresh water, fuel, electricity or phone service.

Officials with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is in charge of the relief effort, said they would take satellite phones to all of Puerto Rico’s towns and cities, more than half of which were cut off following Maria’s devastating crossing of Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

The island’s infrastructure was in sorry shape long before Maria struck. A $73 billion debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. As a result the power company abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts.

A federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances authorized up to $1 billion in local funds to be used for hurricane response, but Gov. Ricardo Rossello said he would ask for more.

“We’re going to request waivers and other mechanisms so Puerto Rico can respond to this crisis,” he said. “Puerto Rico will practically collect no taxes in the next month.”

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York said she will request a one-year waiver from the Jones Act, a federal law blamed for driving up prices on Puerto Rico by requiring cargo shipments there to move only on U.S. vessels as a means of supporting the U.S. maritime industry.

“We will use all our resources,” Velazquez said. “We need to make Puerto Rico whole again. These are American citizens.”

Meanwhile, a group of anxious mayors arrived in San Juan to meet with Rossello to present a long list of items they urgently need. The north coastal town of Manati had run out of fuel and fresh water, Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez said.

“Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It’s at capacity,” he said, crying. “We need someone to help us immediately.”

POWERLESS PUERTO RICO’S STORM CRISIS DEEPENS WITH DAM THREAT

The death toll from Maria in Puerto Rico was at least 10, including two police officers who drowned in floodwaters in the western town of Aguada. That number was expected to climb as officials from remote towns continued to check in with officials in San Juan.

Authorities in the town of Vega Alta on the north coast said they had been unable to reach an entire neighborhood called Fatima, and were particularly worried about residents of a nursing home.

“I need to get there today,” Mayor Oscar Santiago told the Associated Press. “Not tomorrow, today.”

Rossello said Maria would clearly cost more than the last major storm to wallop the island, Hurricane George in September 1998. “This is without a doubt the biggest catastrophe in modern history for Puerto Rico,” he said.

A dam upstream of the towns of Quebradillas and Isabela in northwest Puerto Rico was cracked but had not burst by Saturday afternoon as the water continued to pour out of rain-swollen Lake Guajataca. Federal officials said Friday that 70,000 people, the number who live in the surrounding area, would have to be evacuated. But Javier Jimenez, mayor of the nearby town of San Sebastian, said he believed the number was far smaller.

Secretary of Public Affairs Ramon Rosario said about 300 families were in harm’s way.

The governor said there is “significant damage” to the dam and authorities believe it could give way at any moment. “We don’t know how long it’s going to hold. The integrity of the structure has been compromised in a significant way,” Rossello said.

The 345-yard (316-meter) dam, which was built around 1928, holds back a man-made lake covering about 2 square miles (5 square kilometers). More than 15 inches (nearly 40 centimeters) of rain from Maria fell on the surrounding mountains, swelling the reservoir.

Officials said 1,360 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers were downed, and 85 percent of above-ground and underground phone and internet cables were knocked out. With roads blocked and phones dead, officials said, the situation may worsen.

“We haven’t seen the extent of the damage,” Rossello told reporters in the capital. Rossello couldn’t say when power might be restored.

Maj. Gen. Derek P. Rydholm, deputy to the chief of the Air Force Reserve, said mobile communications systems were being flown in, but acknowledged “it’s going to take a while” before people in Puerto Rico will be able to communicate with their families outside the island.

The island’s electric grid was in sorry shape long before Maria struck. The territory’s $73 billion debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. It abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts.

Rosello said he was distributing 250 satellite phones from FEMA to mayors across the island to re-establish contact.

At least 31 lives in all have been lost around the Caribbean, including at least 15 on hard-hit Dominica. Haiti reported three deaths; Guadeloupe, two; and the Dominican Republic, one.

Across Puerto Rico, more than 15,000 people are in shelters, including some 2,000 rescued from the north coastal town of Toa Baja.

Some of the island’s 3.4 million people planned to head to the U.S. to temporarily escape the devastation. At least in the short term, though, the soggy misery will continue: Additional rain — up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) — is expected through Saturday.

In San Juan, Neida Febus wandered around her neighborhood with bowls of cooked rice, ground meat and avocado, offering food to the hungry. The damage was so extensive, the 64-year-old retiree said, that she didn’t think the power would be turned back on until Christmas.

“This storm crushed us from one end of the island to the other,” she said.

Hour-long lines formed at the few gas stations that reopened on Friday and anxious residents feared power could be out for weeks — or even months — and wondered how they would cope.

“I’m from here. I believe we have to step up to the task. If everyone leaves, what are we going to do? With all the pros and the cons, I will stay here,” Israel Molina, 68, who lost roofing from his San Juan mini-market to the storm, said, and then paused. “I might have a different response tomorrow.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Courtesy, Fox News

Fitch upgrades Russia’s credit rating from stable to positive

Fitch upgrades Russia’s credit rating from stable to positive
In a press release, the Fitch credit agency has upgraded Russia’s sovereign credit rating from “stable” to “positive,” though it also predicted that economic growth will be slow and oil revenues will not rise to the heights of the early 2010s for some time.

In a statement issued on Friday, Fitch said that Russia’s Issuer Default Rating (IDR) had been raised to reflect the country’s improving economy.

“Russia continues to make progress in strengthening its policy framework underpinned by a more flexible exchange rate, strong commitment to inflation targeting and a prudent fiscal strategy, reflected in the recently approved budget rule,” the statement read.

READ MORE: Russian Central Bank slashes key rate as inflation slows & economy grows

“This policy mix will result in improved macroeconomic stability and, together with robust external and fiscal balance sheets, increases the economy’s resilience to shocks.”

The level of inflation declined from 7.1 percent in 2016 to 4.1 percent in 2017, and is expected to average 4.5 percent in 2018-19, which Fitch calls “an unprecedented level of low inflation for Russia.” However, oil revenues are project to form around 36 percent of the budget, which is far below the level of 50 percent in 2011-2014.

Courtesy, RT

‘Semblance of normal life’: Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor slowly recovers from ISIS siege

The lifting of the siege around the city of Deir ez-Zor by the Russian Air Force-backed Syrian Army has tremendously eased the life of people there, but it’s still just a semblance of normal life, as the full eradication of Islamic State terrorists still lies ahead.

READ MORE: Drone footage of Deir ez-Zor shows city recovering from 3-year ISIS siege (EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS)

Before the siege was lifted, Deir ez-Zor had been under a tight blockade and constant shelling from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists for more than three years. Supplies were delivered solely by air, through airdrops by military cargo planes and infrequent and daring helicopter flights, used mainly for delivering reinforcements to the enduring garrison of the besieged enclave.

Siege survivors told RT’s Murad Gazdiev that the staple diet for the past year was za’atar (a mixture of herbs usually used as spice) mixed with water because the ingredients for proper bread were scarce. Zaatar is a traditional Middle Eastern spice mainly made of oregano, so the main ration of many residents in Deir ez-Zor was effectively dried grass with water.

Prices of the most common food items had soared in the city, which was cut off from the other government-held areas. People sold everything of value, even their cars and property, to secure basic survival for their families. A local man told RT how he sold his car when the siege had just begun for 50 kilograms of sugar, which was then available only on the black market.

No fresh fruit or vegetables were available to the city’s residents and many young children, born during the siege have never tasted them before this September, when the IS blockage was finally broken by the Syrian Army with Russian air support.

Syrian and Russian humanitarian aid was immediately sent to the exhausted residents when the regaining of control over the strategic Deir ez-Zor–Palmyra highway allowed establishing a steady land supply route to the city.

As humanitarian aid began flowing into the Syrian city, life began to return to something like normalcy, but Gazdiev reports that it is still only a semblance of peace, with the dangers of war being very close. Some 15 percent of the city is still under IS control. While the complete liberation for the city is expected within several weeks, there are still swathes of land controlled by IS in the surrounding Deir ez-Zor province, which the Syrian forces aim liberate in full.

Some 87.4 percent of Syria is now free of Islamic State terrorists, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

Courtesy, RT

China detects 3.4 N. Korea earthquake on surface, fears of new nuclear test emerge

China detects 3.4 N. Korea earthquake on surface, fears of new nuclear test emerge
A magnitude 3.4 earthquake, at a depth of 0 kilometers, has been recorded near the Kilju area in the North Hamgyeong Province of North Korea, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The ‘quake’ occurred at approximately 08:29 GMT (16:29 local time) on Saturday, CENC reported. Kilju is home to the Punggyeri nuclear site, where North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test was conducted on September 3.

Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that the quake was caused by a “suspected explosion” at the site, while Yonhap reports, that as of right now, the Korea Meteorological Administration believe the quake “occurred naturally.”

“A sound wave, which is usually generated in the event of an artificial earthquake, was not detected,” an agency official said, as cited by Yonhap.

Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Nuclear proliferation watchdog the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) confirmed that an investigation is already underway following “unusual seismic activity.”

Zerbo added that the tremor took place roughly 50km from the site of previously confirmed tests.

Analysts looking at unusual  activity of a much smaller magnitude in the  : 23-SEP-2017 08:30 UTC / More details to come!

Update: Korean Peninsula unusual  activity: LAT=41.36 LON=129.76 mb=3.5
About 50km from prior tests. Analysts investigating.

If confirmed as a nuclear test, it would be the North Korean regime’s seventh. However, all previous tests registered above 4.3 on the Richter scale, with the most recent test on September 3 being recorded as a 6.3 magnitude quake.

The September 3 test spurred the latest raft of UN sanctions and has raised tensions between the US, its allies, and the North Korean regime.

S.Korean ‘talk of appeasement’ with N.Korea will not work, @realDonaldTrump adds http://on.rt.com/8m2t    

Photo published for N. Korea tested hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on ICBM – state TV — RT News

N. Korea tested hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on ICBM – state TV — RT News

Pyongyang has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb which can be mounted on an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the country’s state TV announced. Earlier an “artificial quake” was registered…

rt.com

Saturday’s quake follows an escalation of the combative rhetoric between the North Korean and US leaders this week.

Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump have exchanged a variety of barbs through state media agencies and Twitter respectively, in recent days.

READ MORE: Trump: ‘Madman Kim Jong-un will be tested like never before’

Courtesy, RT

‘America’s Got Talent’ winner Darci Lynn Farmer explains how she’ll spend her $1 million

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent’ crowned its 2017 winner in a finale that was packed with incredible performances on Wednesday. With the winner being 12 years old, many are wondering how she plans to spend her $1 million prize.

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Darci Lynne Farmer, who captivated both America and the judges’ panel on Season 12 of “America’s Got Talent” edged out 9-year-old singer Angelica Hale thanks to her impressive ventriloquism act. She combines characters, comedy and singing to create a stage show worthy of a Las Vegas headlining act – which is good news because that’s exactly what she’ll get thanks to her big win.

Additionally, the youngster is now a millionaire, and she opened up to E! Online after the show to explain how she’s planning to spend the money.

“I have to get my mom a dishwasher because it doesn’t work and we need a new one,” she said just after securing her big win in L.A. While the star thought of her mother first, she wasn’t without grand dreams of her own.

“I would love to get a pug,” she said. “A puppy, a baby pug, i just want one so bad. I’m ready… I’m ready to take on the puppy life.”

Elsewhere, she told USA Today that she’s always had a soft spot for the pug breed saying they, “have wrinkles and fat rolls and they’re so cute.”

The young star also explained to the outlet that the only thing that made her tears of joystop after she won was seeing her younger brother crying as well.

“I’m really, really happy because my little brother cried and he’s never cried before,” she said. “And it made me laugh too, because I’m like, ‘You’re crying, man. You’re crying.’”

Farmer’s next stop will be Las Vegas, where her “AGT” win awards her a headline show. Fans will have to wait until it’s off the ground to see more of her ventriloquist singing.

Courtesy, Fox News

President Trump’s approval ratings on the rise

President Trump’s approval numbers have improved since striking a spending deal with congressional Democrats, ending an Obama-era immigration executive action and playing a visible role amid historic storms and flooding in recent weeks.

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The president has a 43 percent approval rating, according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday, which is 3 points higher than it was last month.

The same poll, conducted September 14-18, says 71 percent support Trump’s surprise spending deal to keep the government opening and fund hurricane relief with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The president did so over the objections of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“Going to the middle has helped him with the middle — without costing him much from his own base,” Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducted the poll, told NBC.

PELOSI LATEST DEM FACING BACKLASH FROM LIBERAL BASE FOR TRUMP DEALING

Likewise, a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday indicates Trump has a 43 percent approval rating, up from 39 percent in August, when the president faced criticism over his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Trump recently announced plans to end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that shielded illegal immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation.

He also took several trips to Texas, Louisiana and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma battered those states.

“It’s impossible to attribute Trump’s small uptick in the polls to any or all of these events. His recovery is modest at best…But the data suggest that Trump, now at the eight-month mark of his presidency, has at least arrested the gradual decline that plagued him for the first seven of those months,” Politico wrote in its analysis of its poll.

Courtesy, Fox News

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