Guam – what you need to know

The North Korean army’s claim that it was examining plans to attack Guam has put the spotlight on the tiny US territory in the Pacific. We examine why the island is so important to the United States.

A map showing Guam, North Korea, Hawaii and the United States.

The volcanic and coral island in the Pacific Ocean is roughly the size of Chicago. Guam, popular with Japanese and South Korean tourists, has a population of about 163,000. It is about 3,500 kilometers southeast of North Korea, much closer than it is to the United States.

The closest US territory to this remote island is Hawaii, which is almost 6,500 kilometers away. Its proximity to China, Japan, the Philippines and the Korean Peninsula has long made the island a vital post for the US military.

Read more: Which US cities could North Korea’s ballistic missile hit?

United States territory in the Pacific

Guam became a US territory in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. Japan seized it for more than two years during the Second World War. In 1950, Guam was recognized as an ‘unincorporated organized’ territory of the United States by an act of Congress.

The island has limited self-government with an elected governor, small legislature, and non-voting delegates in the US lower house, the House of Representatives.

Its status as a US territory adds to its strategic importance for the US, which can beef up its military presence there without seeking any clearance, as it’s required to do when building up defense installations at its bases in countries such as Japan and South Korea.

Watch video01:05

Guam Governor says ‘no threat to our island’

‘Tip of the Spear’

Since the Second World War, when the American troops reclaimed the island from the Japanese, Guam has remained a strategic outpost for the US military. Dubbed the ‘tip of the spear’ by the military, it is home to a naval base and Coast Guard station and an Air Force base that saw heavy use during the Vietnam War. The military bases cover about a third of the island.

Guam is protected by the advanced US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system. About 6,000 US marines are stationed in Guam, and there are plans to send thousands more.

ap/ng (AP, Reuters)

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Washington Reacts to Trump’s ‘Fire and Fury’ Warning to North Korea

U.S. lawmakers criticized the president’s remarks, while North Korea hinted they may act in spite of Trump’s threat.

By Kenneth T. Walsh, Contributor Aug. 9, 2017, at 7:25 a.m.

Washington Reacts to Trump’s ‘Fire and Fury’ Warning to North Korea
President Donald Trump talks about North Korea during a briefing on the opioid crisis, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.  (AP/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump talks about North Korea during a briefing Tuesday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (EVAN VUCCI/AP)

Donald Trump’s fierce new threat against North Korea is unsettling official Washington as much as anything he has done so far as president.

Trump created a firestorm of criticism Tuesday when he warned: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” These remarks came the same day the Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded North Korea is making miniaturized nuclear warheads that can be placed inside missiles. Pyongyang also has been conducting missile tests in recent weeks. After Trump’s remarks, the North Korean regime said it is considering an attack on Guam.

Historian Timothy Naftali of New York University told CNN, “Donald Trump may put himself in a box because he is promising action that he might actually be unwilling to deliver on. So he should be careful what he threatens because he may, for the sake of U.S. credibility, have to act on his threats. That’s why presidents are so careful not to bluff. The other side can call your bluff.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., the Senate Democratic leader, called Trump’s comments “reckless.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a news release, “President Trump is not helping the situation with his bombastic comments.” She called for “high-level dialogue without any preconditions” between the United States and North Korea. Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “Make no mistake: North Korea is a real threat, but the president’s unhinged reaction suggests he might consider using American nuclear weapons in response to a nasty comment from a North Korean despot.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Phoenix radio station KTAR, “I take exception to the president’s comments because you’ve got to be sure that you can do what you say you’re going to do. The great leaders I’ve seen don’t threaten unless they’re ready to act and I’m not sure President Trump is ready to act.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, R-Md., the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “President Trump’s comments were not helpful and once again show that he lacks the temperament and judgment to deal with the serious crisis the United States confronts. We should not be engaging in the same kind of bluster and provocative statements as North Korea about nuclear war.”

Trump issued his threat during a photo session with news photographers and reporters at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is on what his aides call a “working vacation.”

President Trump has stern warning for North Korea
WTTG – Washington, DC
00:0002:09

Tags: Donald TrumpUnited StatesKim Jong UnNorth Koreamissilesnuclear weaponsChuck SchumerDianne FeinsteinJohn McCainBen Cardin

Kenneth T. Walsh CONTRIBUTOR

Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog “Ken Walsh’s Washington,” for usnews.com, and “The Presidency” column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the book “Celebrity in Chief: A History of the Presidents and the Culture of Stardom.” He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter

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Trump Warns North Korea: Threats Against the U.S. ‘Will Be Met With Fire and Fury’

U.S. analysts believe North Korea has been able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on an intercontinental missile for the first time.

By Gabrielle Levy, Political Reporter Aug. 8, 2017, at 4:47 p.m.

This picture taken and released on July 4, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (2nd R) inspecting the test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location.

This picture taken and released on July 4 by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (2nd R) inspecting the test-fire of an intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location. (STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

President Donald Trump escalated his warning to North Korea following reports that the country has managed to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that could be fitted to a missile, promising “fire and fury” in response to further escalation.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said, speaking from his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Tuesday afternoon. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Trump added that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Trump’s comments came after The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence analysts believe North Korea is now for the first time able to produce a warhead that could be fitted to a missile.

North Korea has dramatically ramped up its weapons programs testing since Trump took office, hitting several significant milestones in recent months that make their ability to launch a strike on U.S. soil much more plausible.

Last month, the U.S. confirmed that North Korea for the first time had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that had the range to strike Alaska. While acknowledging the feat as a major advancement for Pyongyang, experts said at the time that North Korea could still be a year or more away from mastering the technology that could threaten the U.S. – developing a warhead to fit onto the tip of such a missile, separate it from the missile and complete a guided reentry toward a target.

The United Nations Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved new sanctionsagainst North Korea. Those new sanctions were on top of additional U.S. sanctions approved by Congress last month and signed by Trump.

On Monday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho insisted the new sanctions would not result in halting his country’s nuclear ambitions.

“We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table,” Ri said at the regional ASEAN conference in Manila, according a statement released by the country’s mission to the U.N.

North Korea “will make the U.S. pay dearly for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country,” the statement said, adding a “stern warning to the U.S.” not to believe “its land is safe across the ocean.”

Pyongyang says its nuclear program is no threat to the world, but rather “a legitimate option for self-defense in the face of a clear and real nuclear threat posed by the U.S.”

Still, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday that while the sanctions may not halt North Korea’s nuclear experimentation, they would force Kim to rethink his “endgame.”

“He has to decide,” she told NBC’s “Today” show. “If he strikes the United States, is that something he can win?”

New North Korean nuclear warhead can fit inside missile
Inform News

Tags: Donald TrumpKim Jong UnNorth Koreanuclear weaponsmissilesmilitary

Gabrielle Levy POLITICAL REPORTER

Gabrielle Levy covers politics for U.S. News & World Report. Follow her on Twitter (@gabbilevy) or email her at GLevy@usnews.com.

Courtesy, U.S. News & World Report.

‘God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,’ evangelical adviser says

 August 9 at 11:28 AM

President Trump, left, greets pastor Robert Jeffress on July 1 during the Celebrate Freedom Rally at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. (Oliver Douliery/Pool/European Pressphoto Agency)

Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers who preached the morning of his inauguration, has released a statement saying the president has the moral authority to “take out” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil,” Jeffress said. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”

Jeffress said in a phone interview that he was prompted to make the statement after Trump said that if North Korea’s threats to the United States continue, Pyongyang will be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

 Play Video 0:37
Trump on North Korea: ‘They will be met with fire and fury’
During his stay at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club on Aug. 8, President Trump said North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if they continue making nuclear “threats.” (Reuters)

The biblical passage Romans 13 gives the government authority to deal with evildoers, Jeffress said. “That gives the government … the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong Un,” he said.

He said that many pacifist Christians will cite Romans 12, which says, “Do not repay evil for evil,” but Jeffress says that the passage is referring to Christians, not to the government.

“A Christian writer asked me, ‘Don’t you want the president to embody the Sermon on the Mount?’ ” he said, referring to Jesus’s sermon. “I said absolutely not.”

In his sermon on the morning of Trump’s inauguration in January, Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, compared Trump to the story of the biblical leader Nehemiah, who helped rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

The first step of rebuilding the nation, Jeffress said, was the building of a wall around Jerusalem to protect its citizens. “You see, God is not against building walls,” Jeffress said in his sermon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington.

Jeffress is no stranger to controversy. He has said in the past that former president Barack Obama paved the way for the Antichrist and drew wide attention for calling Mormonism a cult during the 2012 Republican primaries. Jeffress knows his comments on North Korea could be considered controversial, even among fellow evangelicals. His megachurch in Dallas is a prominent Southern Baptist church, one where evangelist Billy Graham had membership for many years. In 2016, the church reported an average weekly attendance of about 3,700.

“Some Christians, perhaps younger Christians, have to think this through,” Jeffress said. “It’s antithetical to some of the mushy rhetoric you hear from some circles today. Frankly, it’s because they are not well taught in the scriptures.”

Over the past two years, Jeffress said, Trump has been “very measured, very thoughtful in every response.”

“People instinctively know that this president is not going to draw an imaginary red line and walk around it like President Obama did,” he said.

Attitudes about North Korea among evangelicals are unclear, he said.

 Play Video 4:38
How Trump appealed to white, evangelical voters
An overwhelming number of white, evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, 81-16 percent, according to exit poll results. Facebook Live host Libby Casey talks to religion reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey about how Trump appealed to this group and what they expect from him once in office. (The Washington Post)

“I think many evangelicals, like most Americans, really don’t pay attention to global affairs,” Jeffress said. “I believe we’re all going to be forced to soon if North Korea isn’t dealt with decisively.”

Jeffress is unusual for an evangelical pastor because most pastors do not speak about specific foreign policy issues from the pulpit, except sometimes about Israel, said Amy Black, a political-science professor at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois.

Theologians and church leaders have debated the interpretation of Romans 13 for millennia, Black said. Most mainstream interpretations of the passage, she said, would suggest that God works through governmental leaders, but ultimate authority comes from God. Debate broke out among Christians in Germany during World War II over how to interpret this passage; some Christians believed they should follow the government while others set up a resistance movement.

“If anything, Romans 13 creates a conundrum, because it could be interpreted that Kim Jong Un has authority to govern,” she said.

Jeffress last met with Trump in July when a group of pastors laid hands on the president in the Oval Office. He said now that health care is off the table, evangelicals are hoping for tax reform, though he didn’t have any specifics in mind.

The access Jeffress has to the White House, Black said, may explain why many evangelicals have been so attracted to Trump.

“Some of the approval of Trump is less about the specific person and even specific policy, but it’s about someone who is listening to us,” she said. “Jeffress is a piece of that story of having access.”

Black says that Jeffress represents an “old guard” of evangelicals, closely aligned to leaders like popular radio personality and psychologist James Dobson and Pat Robertson, who founded the Christian Broadcasting Network. Many evangelicals now look to leadership from pastors like Rick Warren in California or Tim Keller in New York City, though Warren and Keller do not speak about politics very often.

“We’re in a weird vacuum; we’re past the Jim Dobson and Pat Robertson era, but it’s not 100 percent clear who will fill their place,” Black said.

Jeffress, who was an early supporter of Trump, has said that after sharing Wendy’s cheeseburgers in Iowa, he believed Trump would be the next president and that it would be because God placed him there. In July, his church choir and orchestra performed a song called “Make America Great Again” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in D.C., where Trump was in attendance.

This story has been updated to provide further comments from Amy Black, a political-science professor at Wheaton College.

Hackers hit HBO, demand millions for data

A group of hackers has published a fresh trove of data stolen from the US cable network HBO. The data dump includes the script for an upcoming “Game of Thrones” episode, as well as a ransom demand for remaining files.

Game of Thrones - Krone (picture alliance/dpa/R. Utrecht)

The attackers directed their demands at the head of HBO, Richard Plepler, giving him a deadline of three days to pay the ransom or risk further leaks. In the video published under the name of “Mr. Smith,” on Monday, the group threatened to upload entire series and confidential company files included in the 1.4 terabytes of data they allegedly stole from the network.

The hackers censored the specific sum in the published video, but also said they demanded “our 6-month salary in bitcoin,” and claimed they earn $12 million to $15 million a year cyber-attacks and blackmail. The hackers say it took them half a year to penetrate HBO’s network.

Last Monday, HBO acknowledged some of its files had been stolen, but declined to comment on the details. After the latest leak, the company said it was still investigating the problem and cooperating with police and cybersecurity experts.

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The data include a script for the upcoming fifth episode of the seventh season of “Game of Thrones,” plus what appears to be a contact list for some of the show’s stars. It shows a screenshot of folders allegedly containing episodes of several other shows, including dark comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, and a comedy-drama Insecure. Other files reportedly include job offer letters and net-administrator passwords.

Read more: Composer Ramin Djawadi tells DW of writing music for Game of Thrones

HBO has long struggled to keep plot lines of its shows secret, with various hackers repeatedly targeting “Game of Thrones,” the epic fantasy series with massive worldwide following. In 2015, the first four episodes of the show’s fifth season leaked online ahead of broadcast, and a low-quality version of this Sunday’s episode was also published prematurely last week. Additionally, “Game of Thrones” has been the most pirated TV show worldwide for at least five years.

dj/msh (AP, dpa)

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Up to 100 feared dead in China earthquake

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 has struck a remote part of China’s far northwestern region of Xinjiang, with no deaths reported. But many still remain trapped following an earlier quake, with scores feared dead.

Photo taken on Aug. 8, 2017 shows a street view after earthquake near the tourist center in Jiuzhaigou County (picture alliance/dpa/Photoshot)

Officials in China have confirmed that a strong earthquake in southwestern Sichuan province on Tuesday killed at least nine people and injured dozens more. More were feared dead, however, after the 6.5 magnitude quake hit the remote, mountainous region.

There were tourists among the victims, authorities said, as the Jiuzhai Valley national park, a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its scenic lakes and waterfalls, lay inside the danger zone. About 100 more tourists remained trapped in one part of the park late on Tuesday as emergency response workers rushed to rescue them.

“There are fatalities. The numbers await confirmation,” a Sichuan government official told German news agency dpa.

Quake felt in Beijing

The tremor was so strong it could be felt 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away in the capital, Beijing.

Chinese state TV announced that Jiuzhai Valley park would remain closed as part of the state of emergency declared in the area.

Photo taken on Aug. 8, 2017 shows a damaged car in the earthquake in Jiuzhaigou County of southwest China's Sichuan Province (picture alliance/dpa/Photoshot)Authorities said the number of fatalities could not yet be confirmed

“The quake hit at night, communications lines and electricity are disrupted and people are no doubt shocked and scared,” said a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in China, which has dispatched relief workers to the area.

China’s National Commission for Disaster Reduction said later in a statement that it feared up to 100 could have been killed and hundreds of thousands of homes may be damaged as a result of the earthquake.

The quake was the second disaster to strike Sichuan in a single day. Earlier, a landslide triggered by heavy rains killed at least 24 people south of Chengdu.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities and the US Geological Survey on Wednesday reported a second earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.3 in the Xinjiang province near China’s border with Kazakhstan. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in the sparsely populated area.

ls, es/cmk (AFP, dpa)

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South Africa’s Zuma survives no-confidence vote with party backing

South African lawmakers have decided to keep President Jacob Zuma in power, with the ruling ANC party backing the leader despite corruption charges. The emotionally charged vote triggered rallies across the country.

Misstrauensvotum Südafrika (Reuters/M.Hutchings)

South African President Jacob Zuma seemed emboldened after lawmakers from his ruling African National Congress (ANC) helped reject a no-confidence vote on Tuesday. Zuma garnered 198 votes to the opposition’s 177, with nine lawmakers abstaining in the secret ballot.

“The ANC is there, is powerful, is big,” Zuma said once the result was official.

Deputies from the ANC broke into song and dance to mark the victory of their embattled leader. In a statement following the vote, the party announced that “we reiterate that we will never endorse or vote in favor of any motion that seeks to cripple our country.” The ANC also accused its rivals of trying to “collapse government, deter service delivery and sow seeds of chaos in society.”

The main opposition Democratic Alliance reacted bitterly to the defeat. “The majority of the ANC have chosen corruption, looting,” the DA announced in a statement released late Tuesday. ” Zuma is mortally wounded, and his party is in tatters,” the bloc charged.

The 75-year-old president has survived several previous attempts to unseat him, but the latest effort marks the first time that the issue was decided in a secret ballot.The ANC hold 249 seats in the 400-seat assembly.  The results indicate that dozens of ANC lawmakers ended up supporting the no-confidence motion, as the ruling party holds 249 of the seats in parliament, five of which are currently vacant.

Zuma appeared at a rally in Cape Town later on Tuesday, accusing his rivals of trying to use technicalities to take over the government.

Watch video01:22

South Africa’s Zuma faces no-confidence vote

Read more: South Africa’s power family, the Guptas: what you need to know

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Cape Town during the vote, carrying “Fire Zuma” banners, while several hundreds of ANC supporters danced on the streets and chanted “Zuma must stay.” Opposition leader Mmusi Maimane urged lawmakers to “vote with their conscience.”

South African President Jacob Zuma addressing parliament (Reuters/S. Hisham)

Earlier Tuesday, ANC deputies pledged to support Zuma, who also attended the meeting. Several of them were singing while walking out of the session.

“You hear the singing,” ANC’s chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, told the eNCA television channel. “Zuma was toying (dancing),,” Mthembu added. “That is what we do when we are under attack.”

Trouble for ANC

Zuma’s career was marked by a series of public scandals even before he took office in 2009. He was acquitted of a rape charge in 2006, and numerous corruption charges were also dropped before he was elected head of state, most of them linked to a 1999 arms deal, when Zuma was deputy president. A court challenge to reinstate the graft process in currently underway.

As president, Zuma has managed to fight off impeachment proceedings for using public money to improve one of his homes. Although he maintained a grip on power, he was ordered by the court to repay 7.8 million rand (587,800 dollars, 497,650 euros) to state coffers.

Watch video02:20

South Africa – corrupt and increasingly poor

IIn addition to allegations of influence-peddling for the Gupta family, Zuma also sparked outrage by firing popular Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015, and replacing him with an unknown but loyal legislator. South Africa faces high unemployment, rising prices and increasing poverty. Zuma’s opponents claim that the long-reigning leader delegitimized his party, which brought Nelson Mandela to power in 1994 and has controlled the government ever since.

Zuma promised to resign as ANC party chief in December and as president before the next general election in 2019.

dj/msh (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

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