It’s Tuesday August 8, 2017

8Aug

00:0000:00

Amid escalating tensions over North Korea, President Donald Trump on Tuesday promised "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if North Korea continues to threaten nuclear action against the United States. "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States," the president warned, responding to a question during a brief press availability at his Bedminster, New Jersey Golf Club, where he's spent the last several days. "They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before." A confidential US intelligence assessment, completed July 28 by the Defense Intelligence Agency and read to the Washington Post, concludes, "The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles." The assessment’s broad conclusions were verified by two U.S. officials familiar with the document. It is not yet known whether Pyongyang has successfully tested the smaller design, although North Korea officially last year claimed to have done so. The DIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the Post report. The new analysis comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Last month, North Korea proved its missile capabilities have reached a point where U.S. cities are within "target range."

 

 

Japan issued a military policy review on Tuesday that seemed to confirm that DIA assessment on North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear program. The Tokyo government's annual defense white paper, published on Tuesday, said, “North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles and its nuclear program are becoming increasingly real and imminent problems for the Asia-Pacific region. It is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has acquired nuclear warheads.” The report will likely fuel a growing debate in Japan about whether the country should acquire the means to launch pre-emptive military strikes — attacks that could destroy North Korean missiles on the ground before they are fired at Japan or other targets. Since World War II Japan has constitutionally limited its military to a strictly defensive role. Although successive governments have argued that, in theory, striking an enemy pre-emptively to thwart an imminent attack would be an act of self-defense, and therefore constitutional, the country has mostly avoided acquiring the kind of weapons it would need to do so, like long-range cruise missiles, air-to-ground missiles and refueling aircraft that extend the range of fighter jets. Some senior officials are now arguing that Japan should acquire such weapons.

 

 

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday pressed Thai leaders for more action on North Korea during the highest level visit to Thailand by a U.S. official since a military coup in 2014 soured relations with the United States. Tillerson's top priority has been urging Southeast Asian countries to do more to cut funding streams for North Korea. The United States believes North Korean front companies are active in Thailand and is trying to encourage the Thais to shut them down, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton told reporters aboard Tillerson's plane. The companies are using Bangkok as a regional hub and change their names frequently, she said. Before meeting Tillerson, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand would support a U.N. resolution on new sanctions on Pyongyang over its missile tests. But he made no mention of specific action.

 

 

The Pentagon is considering allowing U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants in the Philippines. Two U.S. defense officials told NBC News the strikes would be conducted using armed drones, and the operation could be named as soon as Tuesday. In Manila, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave Secretary of State Tillerson a warm reception and dropped his frequent hostile remarks against the Trump administration, saying he was a "humble friend" of the U.S. at a time of tensions in Asia over North Korea and China's territorial aggression in the South China Sea. Duterte said. "We are friends. We are allies."

 

 

Another victim of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City has been identified. Using the latest technology, New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been retesting DNA recovered in 2001, and was able to identify the male victim, who's name is being withheld at the request of his family. He is the 1,641st person to be identified out of a total of 2,753 people who died in the attack. The last time a 9-11 victim was identified was March 2015. Some 40% of the 9-11 victims remain unidentified nearly 16 years after then attack when hijacked jetliners crashed into New York City's World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Virginia and a field in Pennsylvania, claiming nearly 3,000 lives and injuring thousands more.

 

 

British model Chloe Ayling said that she was lucky to be alive after being kidnapped in Italy and held for more than two weeks before being saved by authorities. Ayling told Italian investigators that she had been lured from London for a phony photo shoot at an abandoned storefront in Milan, and then drugged, bound, and stuffed into a duffel bag before being driven to a remote farmhouse. She said her abductors were preparing to "auction" her as a sex slave for $300,000 or more over the dark web, an encrypted and clandestine internet network where people buy and sell illegal goods. "I've been through a terrifying experience," Ayling told Italy's RAI News. "I've feared for my life, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour." Italian police documents revealed Ayling's alleged captor held her because he needed to raise money for his cancer treatment. In his police testimony, Lukasz Herba said he got involved with the group behind the alleged kidnap near Milan because he had leukaemia.

 

 

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that he will hold a "major briefing" on the nation's opioid crisis. He is to hear from his secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, one of several administration officials who will meet with the president during his 17 day August break at his Bedminster New Jersey golf resort. Price's briefing is the only activity on Trump's public schedule Tuesday. A commission that Trump appointed to study the epidemic early in his term, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, recommended last week that Trump declare a national emergency. The commission wrote, “The opioid epidemic we are facing is unparalleled.”

 

 

Recent decades have been the hottest in the past 1,500 years due to a sharp rise in temperatures since 1980, according to a federal climate change report obtained by The New York Times. Scientists from 13 federal agencies contributed to the report, which has been approved by the National Academy of Sciences but not released to the public. One government scientist told the Times that he and others who worked on the report feared it might be suppressed, because it contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet that scientists still aren't sure about the extent and causes of climate change. The report said future climate changes depend "on future emissions."

 

 

Google said it has fired the software engineer who wrote a controversial memo criticizing the company's diversity program, and claimed that women were underrepresented in the technology industry for biological reasons, not discrimination. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a company-wide email that he supported workers' rights to express themselves but that portions of the memo, which was titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," had violated the company's code of conduct "by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace." Critics within the company had demanded action.

 

 

Hackers posted stolen HBO files online Monday, in the second data dump since a massive cyberattack on the cable entertainment company last week. The files included five scripts from the popular fantasy drama Game of Thrones, as well as emails from the company's vice president for film programming, Leslie Cohen. The hack or hackers, going by the name Mr. Smith, threatened to release more material unless HBO pays a ransom, estimated at $6 million or more in bitcoin.

 

 

Late-night talk show legend David Letterman and streaming video giant Netflix announced Tuesday that the former CBS “Late Show” host has signed on to do a six-episode talk show that will premiere in 2018. It will be Letterman's first series since retiring in May 2015 after a 33-year run across two networks. The 69-year-old comic’s only TV work since has been as host of an episode of National Geographic Channel’s “Years of Living Dangerously.” In the new series, which does not yet have a name, Letterman will conduct one in-depth guest interview per hour-long episode and will appear in segments produced outside a studio setting. Since his retirement from CBS, Letterman has been spending most of his time at his ranch home in Choteau, Montana. In a statement Letterman said, “I feel excited and lucky to be working on this project for Netflix. Here's what I have learned, if you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first. Thanks for watching, drive safely.” The terms of Letterman’s deal with Netflix were not disclosed.