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U.S. to ban Americans’ travel to North Korea – State Department

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WASHINGTON/SEOUL : – The U.S. government will ban Americans from travelling to North Korea due to “the serious risk of arrest” after a U.S. student was jailed while on a tour and later died, the State Department said on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson authorised a “Geographical Travel Restriction” on all Americans’ use of a passport to the country, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“Once in effect, U.S. passports will be invalid for travel to, through and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea,” Nauert said.

The move was due to “mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement,” she added.

The State Department plans to publish a notice in the Federal Register next week, starting a 30-day clock before the restriction takes effect, Nauert said.

Koryo Tours, which offers tours to North Korea, had said the ban would be announced this month. The Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which handles consular affairs for the United States in the North, informed Koryo of the ban, but did not say how long it would last, the company said.

“But it does seem to be the case that in just over a month, it will be impossible for Americans to visit as tourists,” Koryo Tours general manager Simon Cockrell told Reuters by telephone.

Nauert said Americans who want to travel to North Korea “for certain limited humanitarian or other purposes” can apply for a special passport to do so.

Young Pioneer, another company that arranges tours to North Korea, took U.S. student Otto Warmbier to the country at the end of 2015.

He was arrested there and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for an incident at his hotel where he was accused of trying to steal a propaganda banner.

North Korea released the 22-year-old Warmbier in June in a coma and he died days after getting back to the United States. The circumstances surrounding his death are not clear, including why he fell into a coma.

North Korea has said through its state media that Warmbier’s death was “a mystery” and dismissed accusations that he had died as a result of torture and beating in captivity.

The isolated North Korea allows foreign tourists to visit but their travel is strictly limited.

Reporting by Se Young Lee and James Pearson in SEOUL and Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom and Yeganeh Torbati in WASHINGTON; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel and Jeffrey Benkoe

 

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Bomb Threats Across United States – reports

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crime

Law enforcement authorities around the United States were reponding to a wave of bomb threats, many of them sent by email NBC reported.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma City police told NBC News that individuals in and around that city have gotten 10 to 13 specific email bomb threats, with specific addresses.

Bronx Science said it evacuated its building at 11 a.m. after it received a bomb threat by phone. The school said students were “currently well supervised at neighboring schools.”

The New York police department confirmed it received a call about the threat and responded to the school. The department later tweeteed it was monitoring “multiple bomb threats that have been sent electronically to various locations throughout the city.”

Nearly a dozen threats were received at businesses throughout South Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. At least three others were reported in Orlando.

Massachusetts State Police are investigating after multiple bombs threats were allegedly mailed to “numerous businesses in the state.” Authorities said the MSP Fusion Center is tracking the activity.

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Trump accuses Comey of lying in testimony to Congress

Trump criticised Comey’s testimony, the transcription of which was made public Saturday evening and was published on Sunday by several US media outlets.

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Washington, Dec 10 : US President Donald Trump has accused former FBI Director James Comey of lying during his testimony before a congressional committee last week, when the ex-official revealed that the investigation into presumed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was initially focused on four US citizens.

In two tweets, Trump criticised Comey’s testimony, the transcription of which was made public Saturday evening and was published on Sunday by several US media outlets, Efe reported on Sunday.

“Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president added that during Comey’s appearance before the House Judiciary and Government Reform committees on Friday, the former FBI chief told lawmakers “on 245 occasions” that “he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked. Opened investigations on 4 Americans (not 2) … All lies!”

Comey, who was abruptly fired by Trump in May 2017, was ordered to appear before Congress behind closed doors on Friday to respond to questions from lawmakers investigating the actions of the FBI and the Department of Justice during the scandal involving former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

In July 2016, Comey closed the FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of her private server to send a number of e-mails while she was serving in the Barack Obama administration, but a few days before the election he reopened the probe to review new messages, something that Democrats say could have influenced the result of the election, which Clinton lost to Trump in what most regarded as a stunning upset.

In his appearance before the House committees, Comey defended the decisions he made in 2016 and revealed that the FBI investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign initially was focused on four Americans, according to the transcript.

Comey did not identify those four people, but he said that Trump was not one of them.

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Former US President George H.W. Bush dead at 94

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Herbert Walker Bush-

Washington, Dec 1: George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the US who is best known for sanctioning the Gulf War, presiding over the fall of the Berlin Wall and steering America through the end of the Cold War, has died at the age of 94 in Houston.

The announcement of his passing on Friday night was made in a statement by his son and 43rd US President George W. Bush on Saturday. “Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear dad has died,” Bush said.

George Herbert Walker Bush served as a fighter pilot during the Second World War, a Congressman, Ambassador to the UN, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director and served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s Vice President between 1981 and 1989, before concluding his four-decade long political career by serving as the US President from 1989 to 1993.

During his stint in the White House, Bush Sr. saw the end of the Cold War, the first Gulf War and the invasion of Panama while the Soviet Union collapsed and Germany reunified.

Despite military and diplomatic successes, he was unable to secure re-election and handed over the reins of the White House to Bill Clinton and retired to his home in Boston, Texas, along with his wife Barbara Bush.

Bush Sr’s death came eight months after that of his spouse to whom he was married for 73 years. They had six children together. The cause of his death was not immediately known.

He was suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease that left him on a wheelchair over the last few years. He was also frequently hospitalised especially for respiratory problems.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump said Bush guided the nation and the world to a victorious end to the Cold War.

“With sound judgement, common sense and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our nation and the world to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War,” Trumps said.

Bush Sr. was also lauded by former President Barack Obama who called him “a patriot and humble servant”.

“His life was a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling,” Obama said.

Grandson George P. Bush said: “He was a good man. His courage was matched by his compassion; and his dedication to country was equalled only by his devotion to his family.”

Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the daughters of former President Richard Nixon, said: “George H.W. Bush lived a life that was purposeful, and extraordinarily rewarding – for our nation, and for our world.”

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