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US warns of military option if North Korea nuclear and missile tests continue

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Nikki Haley

UN ambassador and national security adviser float possibility if new sanctions fail: ‘We have been kicking the can down the road and we’re out of road’

The US has warned it could revert to military options if new sanctions fail to curb North Korean missile and nuclear tests, after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan for the second time in a fortnight.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, and the national security advisor, HR McMaster, told reporters that the latest set of UN sanctions – imposed earlier this week after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test – would need time to take effect, but they suggested that after that, the US would consider military action.

“What is different about this approach is we’re out of time, right?” McMaster said on Friday. “We have been kicking the can down the road and we’re out of road. For those who have been commenting about the lack of a military option – there is a military option. Now it’s not what we prefer to do, so what we have to do is call on all nations … to do everything we can do to address this global problem, short of war.”

Haley said the North Korea issue could soon become a matter for the Pentagon and the defence secretary, James Mattis.

“We try to push through as many diplomatic options that we can,” the ambassador said, but she noted that Monday’s UN Security Council sanctions, which capped petrol and oil exports to the regime and banned textile imports, had not deterred Pyongyang from launching a second intermediate range ballistic missile in two weeks over Japanese territory and into the Pacific.

The missile flew further than any missile tested by the regime, triggering emergency sirens and text alerts minutes before it passed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Friday morning.

Flight data shows the missile travelled higher and further than the one involved in the 29 August flyover of Japan, suggesting the regime is continuing to make advances in its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

A new UN security council session was called on Friday to address North Korean defiance, but Haley said there was little more UN measures could do to change Pyongyang’s behaviour.

“It will take a little bit of time but it has already started to take effect,” she said. “But what we see is that they continue to be provocative, they continue to be reckless and at that point, there is not a whole lot the security council is going to be able to do from here, when you’ve cut 90% of their trade and 30% of the oil. So having said that, I have no problem kicking this to Gen Mattis, because I think he has plenty of options.”

However, when he was asked about a possible US military response, Mattis said: “I don’t want to talk about that yet.”

He said the North Korean launch was a “reckless act” which had “put millions of Japanese in duck and cover”.

Many strategic analysts argue there is no feasible military option for curtailing North Korean nuclear and missile development, as any pre-emptive attack would be likely to trigger a devastating barrage on Seoul, without any guarantee that all Pyongyang’s missiles and nuclear weapons would be put out of action.

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, put the onus on Beijing and Moscow to implement the agreed sanctions to the limit.

“China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labour,” Tillerson said in a statement. “China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own.”

North Korea will be a focus of next week’s international summit at the UN general assembly, but China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will not be attending.

Japan has warned North Korea it risked having no “bright future” and called for an emergency meeting of the UN security council after Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile over Japanese territory for the second time in just over two weeks.

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, called the launch “absolutely unacceptable”. He said the recent UN resolution banning North Korean textile exports and capping the supply of oil to the country “showed the international community’s unified strong will for a peaceful solution. But despite that, North Korea has again carried out this outrageous conduct.

“Now is the time when the international community is required to unite against North Korea’s provocative acts, which threaten world peace,” Abe told reporters shortly after arriving back in Tokyo from a trip to India. “We must make North Korea understand that if it continues down this road, it will not have a bright future.”

The Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing objected to North Korea’s latest launch but believed diplomacy was the only way to solve the “complicated, sensitive and grim” problem.

“The top priority is now to prevent any provocative acts,” Hua told reporters.
But Hua rejected the theory – advanced, among others, by Trump and Theresa May, the British prime minister – that Beijing held the key to thwarting Kim Jong-un’s nuclear and missile ambitious.

“China is not the focus. China is not the driving force behind the escalating situation. And China is not the key to resolving the issue,” Hua said.

Hua said China had already made “great sacrifices” and “paid a high price” in its bid to help rein in Pyongyang: “China’s willingness and its efforts to fulfill its relevant international responsibilities cannot be questioned.”

In an online editorial, the Communist party-controlled Global Times newspaper said it was the US and South Korea, not China, that needed “to guide North Korea into a new strategic direction” through dialogue.

“An isolated North Korea will be more rational if the international society treats it in a rational way,” argued the newspaper, which sometimes reflects official views. It said attempts to intimidate North Korea with threats or shows of force would fail.

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‘Shame on you,’ student tells US President Donald Trump at Florida anti-gun rally

Hundreds rally in Fort Lauderdale for more restrictions on firearms

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Florida students

As the national news media descended on Parkland, students shared their horrific stories of survival after Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and increasingly they are turning to another message: Something needs to change.

Many survivors of mass shootings have gone on to become staunch gun control advocates months and years later in Parkland, the timeline has seemingly accelerated. In the days after the shooting, students have been active on social media and cable news channels, saying now is the time to talk about changing gun laws.

Senior David Hogg has appeared on cable news multiple times since the shooting, urging lawmakers to act and calling the shooting “unacceptable.”

He and hundreds of others rallied at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale Saturday, calling for more legislation to regulate guns.

“Vote them out!” and protesters chanted repeatedly, referring to lawmakers who oppose restrictions on guns.

“People keep asking me, What about this (shooting) will be different?” junior Cameron Kasky said at the rally. “All of you are proof that this could be different.”

Wiping away tears, student Emma Gonzalez gave an impassioned speech, taking aim at President Donald Trump and other politicians who take money from the National Rifle Association.

“To every politician who is taking money from the NRA: Shame on you,” Gonzlez said.

Multiple speakers urged banning weapons like the A5-15 rifle that was used in the shooting.

“No one should own an AR-15, especially an 18-year-old,” said Stoneman Douglas teacher Melissa Falkowski, referring to gunman Nicholas Cruz.

On Saturday morning in Parkland, protesters lined the road to the school, which is still an active crime scene, with signs reading anti-gun messages like “broken system.”

“After every shooting, the NRA sends a memo saying ‘send your thoughts and prayers.’ This is the only country where this kind of thing happens,” Kasky told CNN. “This is the time to talk about guns.”

“But there’s much more that can be done, much more that needs to be done and much more that people like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott are not doing,” he said. “It’s scary to think these are the people who are making our laws when our community just took 17 bullets to the heart. It feels like the only people who don’t care are the people making the laws.”

At a vigil for the victims, a crowd of more than 1,000 people, consisting largely of students, chanted “No more guns, no more guns.”

Students elsewhere have started joining the chorus from Parkland. On Friday, about 100 students from South Broward High School walked out of school to protest gun violence, carrying signs that said “Do Something” and “Protect our Kids, Not Your Guns.”

“We are angry! We are angry!” the students cried. “We want safety! We want safety!”

On Wednesday night, conservative commentator Tomi Lahren took to Twitter, saying it was too early to talk about gun control.

“Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda? My goodness. This isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic,” she wrote.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Caryl Novell quickly responded.

“I was hiding in a closet for two hours. It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings,” Novell said. “This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.”

Her message to Lahren has been retweeted more than 300,000 times.

“We are children. You guys are, like, the adults. Take action, work together, come over your politics, and get something done,” Hogg said.

Source : Local10

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17 killed in Florida school shooting, ex-student held

19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz into custody in connection with the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Parkland high school shooting

At least 17 people were killed Wednesday in a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s office said.

Authorities say they have taken 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz into custody in connection with the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.

The school shooting suspect was arrested “without incident” an hour after allegedly leaving the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School grounds.

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Seventeen people were killed and more than 14 were injured in the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

Authorities believe the suspected shooter worked alone. More than 3,200 students attend ninth through 12th grade at the high school, which is staffed by approximately 130 teachers.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed in a evening news conference that Cruz is a former student of the high school who was expelled for disciplinary reasons, Fox News reports. Sen. Bill Nelson also told FOX that Cruz was wearing a gas mask during the shooting and may have been carrying smoke bombs.

In an interview Wednesday evening with CNN, Marjory Stoneman Douglas math teacher Jim Gard, who had Cruz as a student in 2016, was surprised to hear the news of his arrest. “He was a quiet kid in class, I never had any problems with Nick,” Gard said.

“Some of the girls in my class said that I guess he had some problems with some other girls, but that’s hearsay, and all that,” he added. “As far as my class goes, I remember an email or two from admin [expressing concern] but I can’t remember exactly what it said.”

However, Gard expanded on his account to the Miami Herald, telling the paper that he believed an email from the school administration circulated warning teachers that Cruz had made threats against other students. “We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

Superintendent Robert Runcie of the Broward County School District told reporters outside the school they had received no concerns about Cruz. “We received no warnings,” he said. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”

A student named Nicholas Coke interviewed on the scene by WSVN-7 described Cruz as a “loner.” Coke also recalled a time in middle school when Cruz kicked out a glass window before getting caught, according to the Miami Herald.

“He had a lot of problems in middle school,” Coke said.

“He’s been a troubled kid,” an unidentified student who said he knew Cruz told local media. “And he’s always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling.”

“He always had guns on him,” another unidentified student told WFOR-TV, who said Cruz was never shy about showing off his guns. “The crazy stuff that he did was not right for school, and he got kicked out of school multiple times for that kind of stuff.”

Another unidentified student described the suspect to CBS News. “The kid was crazy,” the student said. “I had engineering with him a couple years ago and he wasn’t allowed to come to school with a backpack and he would threaten students and break glass and get into fights so he got kicked out of school.”

“All he would talk about is guns, knives and hunting,” former classmate Joshua Charo, 16, told the Miami Herald. “I can’t say I was shocked. From past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”

Helen Pasciolla, a retired neighbor who lives in the Cruz family’s former neighborhood in Parkland, told the New York Times that Cruz and his brother, Zachary, who are both adopted, had regular behavioral problems.

Authorities have begun looking into Cruz’s social media profile, findings which Broward Sheriff Scott Israel described to reporters as “very, very disturbing.”

Unverified images on social media accounts cited by multiple media sources appear to show a man holding firearms, wielding knives like a claw, and a collection of guns on a bed.

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US intelligence chiefs say Russia still meddling, threatening 2018 elections

In strong language, Coats said Russia President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 elections and is targeting the 2018 election cycle.

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Dan Coats

WASHINGTON — Russia and other adversaries will continue to engage in cyber warfare to “degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances,” the nation’s top intelligence official said Tuesday.

“Frankly, the United States is under attack,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee, adding that every facet of society is being targeted with cyber intrusions.

In strong language, Coats said Russia President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 elections and is targeting the 2018 election cycle.

“There should be no doubt that (Putin) views the past effort as successful,” Coats said.

The national intelligence director’s comments come against the backdrop of continuing congressional and criminal investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether the Kremlin coordinated their activities with President Trump’s campaign.

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