US warns North Korea it will deliver effective response if it uses nuclear weapons on US or its allies
President Donald Trump (centre) flanked by Vice President Mike Pence (left) and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisSource:AP
IN AN explicit warning to North Korea, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said any use of nuclear weapons by the North on the United States or its allies would be met with what he called an “effective and overwhelming” response.
US defence secretaries have long offered assurances to South Korea and Japan that its nuclear “umbrella” will protect them, but Mattis’s statement on on Friday was more pointed than most.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has sent a stern warning to North Korea. Picture: Ed Jones/APSource:AP
Mattis’s statement showed why he chose South Korea for his first visit overseas since becoming defence secretary on January 20 and could be an attempt to reassure South Koreans after President Donald Trump suggested during his campaign that the treaty between the two nations was a bad deal for America. He made the remarks during an appearance with his South Korean counterpart, Defence Minister Han Min Koo.
“America’s commitments to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantees remain ironclad: Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un: “We remain confident in our ballistic missile defense and in our defense of our allies and our defense of the homeland,” he said in this televised address in December 2016. Picture: Jung Yeon-Je/AFPSource:AFP
Mattis was also discussing with the South Koreans a timetable for deploying an advanced US missile defence system, the Theatre High-Altitude Area Defence, or THAAAD, that is meant to improve protection of South Korea and Japan — as well as US troops stationed in both countries — against a North Korean missile attack.
The current caretaker South Korean government has said it supports THAAAD deployment, but the decision is in doubt because of approaching national elections.
The US has 28,500 troops permanently based in South Korea and about 50,000 in Japan.
North Korea has said it was nearly ready to test-launch a ballistic missile of intercontinental range, meaning it could theoretically threaten the United States.
“Were it not for the provocative behaviour of North Korea, we would have no need for THAAD out here,” Mattis said in his brief remarks to reporters. Alluding to China’s objections to having THAAD deployed in South Korea, Mattis said.
“THAAD should be a worry to no nation other than North Korea.”
HOWARD STERN: TRUMP JUST WANTS TO BE LOVED
Radio shock jock Howard Stern has expressed concern about the impact being commander-in-chief will have on good friend President Donald Trump.
“I personally wish that he had never run, I told him that, because I actually think this is something that is gonna be detrimental to his mental health too, because, he wants to be liked, he wants to be loved,” Stern told CNN on Thursday.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a healthy experience. And by the way, he’s now on this anti-Hollywood kick. He loves Hollywood. First of all, he loves the press. He lives for it. He loves people in Hollywood. He only wants hobnob with them. All of this hatred and stuff directed towards him. It’s not good for him. It’s not good. There’s a reason every president who leaves the office has grey hair.”
Howard Stern said Trump only campaigned in 2016 to leverage his contract as producer for The Apprentice.Source:AP
Stern theorised that Trump originally ran for nomination in 2016 to leverage his contract as producer of The Apprentice.
“He just wanted a couple more bucks out of NBC, and that is why Donald is calling for voter fraud investigations. He’s pissed he won. He still wants Hillary Clinton to win. He’s so f******g pissed, he’s hoping that he can find some voter fraud and hand it over to Hillary,” the celebrity said, according to the report.
THE White House says new Israeli settlements or the expansion of existing ones beyond their current borders may not help achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, although it has yet to take an official position on settlement construction.
“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal,” he said.
The White House has “not taken an official position on settlement activity,” he added.
Spicer says Trump looks forward to continuing to discuss the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits the White House on February 15.
In Israel overnight, Netanyahu vowed to establish the first new West Bank settlement in more than two decades “as soon as possible.”
Trump has signalled a softer line toward settlements, which most of the international community views as illegal.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Twitter video to Donald Trump: “You take over TV, because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job ...”Source:Supplied
GOVERNATOR TO TRUMP: HASTA LA VISTA, BABY
ARNOLD Schwarzenegger has fired off a return volley at Donald Trump, after the President asked for the nation’s prayers to save his former reality show Celebrity Apprentice from declining ratings.
“They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger to take my place, and we know how that turned out,” the President told a prayer breakfast.
“The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster. And [producer] Mark [Burnett] will never, ever bet against Trump again, and I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.”
But Schwarzenegger wasted little time to wield twitter in his defence.
“Hey Donald I have a great idea. Why don’t we switch jobs? You take over TV, because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job ... and then people can finally sleep comfortable again. Hmm?”
A spokesman for Schwarzenegger later told US abc news that the President was also having trouble with is own ‘ratings’.
“Arnold is praying that President Trump can start improving his own approval ratings, which were the worst in history for an incoming president, by taking his job seriously and working inclusively,” the statement reads.
Aan Iranian demonstrator holds an anti-US placard in a state-organised rally in front of the former US Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Picture: APSource:AP
TRUMP TO IMPOSE NEW IRAN SANCTIONS
US President Donald Trump is poised to impose new sanctions on multiple Iranian entities, seeking to ratchet up pressure on Tehran while crafting a broader strategy to counter what he sees as its destabilising behaviour.
In the first tangible action against Iran since Trump took office on January 20, the administration, on the same day insisted that “nothing is off the table,” and was prepared to roll out new measures against more than two dozen Iranian targets, sources told Reuters.
The announcement is expected as early as tonight Australian time, people familiar with the matter reportedly said.
The new sanctions, which are being taken under existing executive orders covering terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, may mark the leading edge of a more aggressive policy against Iran that Trump promised during the 2016 presidential campaign.
But the package, targeting both entities and individuals, was formulated in a way that would not violate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, sources added.
The sources said the new sanctions had been in the works for some time and that Iran’s decision to test-fire a ballistic missile on Sunday had helped trigger Trump’s decision to impose them, although Washington has not accused Iran of violating the nuclear deal.
The White House signalled a tougher stance toward Iran on Wednesday when Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, said he was putting Iran “on notice” after the missile test and senior US officials said the administration was reviewing how to respond.
A top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country would not yield to “useless” US threats from “an inexperienced person” over its ballistic missile program.
The adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati did not identify a specific US official in his comments.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives to speak to State Department employees at the State Department in Washington. Picture: APSource:AP
TILLERSON TAKES STATE DEPARTMENT HELM
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for understanding on his first day at the State Department amid internal dissent over policies of President Donald Trump, which have also antagonised a range of allies.
Hundreds of State Department officials greeted the former Exxon Mobil Corp chairman with applause as he entered the building. Loud cheers broke out when Tillerson thanked Acting Secretary of State Tom Shannon for standing in after the departure of John Kerry.
“My first day is here. I’m on the job,” said Tillerson, who was sworn in on Wednesday, adding: “Hi, I’m the new guy.”
The Senate confirmed Tillerson to his post despite ongoing concerns about his ties to Russia and questions over whether he would wield enough influence as Trump’s main foreign policy adviser.
Trump also has called for closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In remarks that did not go into foreign policy specifics, Tillerson addressed the dissent within the department that emerged in a memo signed by more than 900 officials in protest against Trump’s decision to suspend the US refugee program and restrict most travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“One of the great challenges and thrills for the State Department staff is deciding how to confront changing conditions in every corner of the world,” said Tillerson.
“I encourage all of you to use your natural and well developed skills to adapt to changes here at home as well. I know this was a hotly contested election and we do not all feel the same way about the outcome, each of us is entitled to expression of our political beliefs, but we cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team.”
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of US transportation company Uber Travis Kalanick. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
UBER CEO QUITS TRUMP ADVISORY TEAM
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has quit President Donald Trump’s business leaders’ forum, according to an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Kalanick wrote that he’d spoken with Trump overnight and “let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”
The ride-sharing company has been buffeted all week by boycott campaigns that began when people perceived it as trying to break a taxi strike at New York’s JFK Airport.
The strike was inspired by Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending the country’s refugee program.
Kalanick subsequently condemned the executive order and has contributed to relief groups, but calls for a boycott have continued.
This file photo taken on July 17, 2003 shows a suspected "black site" facility near the Afghan capital of Kabul. The Trump administration is drafting an order allowing the CIA to reopen overseas "black site" prisons used to torture suspects after 9/11, media reported January 25. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
‘BLACK OPS’ VETERAN APPOINTED DEPUTY CIA CHIEF
SHE helped run the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program in Thailand after September 11, 2001. She also ordered the destruction to destroy video evidence of prisoners being subjected to alleged torture.
“Gina is an exemplary intelligence officer and a devoted patriot who brings more than 30 years of Agency experience to the job. She is also a proven leader with an uncanny ability to get things done and to inspire those around her,” said CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
“We are fortunate that someone of her intellect, skill, and experience will be our Deputy Director.”
HOUSE OF REPS VOTES TO GIVE GUNS TO MENTALLY ILL
The House has voted to scrap an Obama administration regulation extending background checks for disabled Social Security recipients mentally incapable of managing their own affairs.
The vote to repeal the regulation is 235-180.
The vote is part of an effort to repeal a handful of regulations issued in President Barack Obama’s final months and represents the first steps toward strengthening gun ownership under President Donald Trump.
The background checks rule established the criteria the Social Security Administration will follow when forwarding names for the criminal background check system.
Those fitting the criteria have a mental disorder so severe that they cannot work and need a representative to manage their benefits. The administration projected that the regulation would affect about 75,000 beneficiaries. Gun rights groups and advocates for the disabled supported the repeal effort.
Meanwhile, the Senate has given final legislative approval to a measure that scuttles a new regulation aimed at preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams.
The Senate’s 54-45 vote sends the measure to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.
Republicans and some Democrats say the rule could eliminate thousands of coal- related jobs and ignores dozens of federal, state and local regulations already in place.
The Interior Department said in announcing the rule in December that it would protect 10,000km of streams and 21,000ha of forests, preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby waters.
The vote was the first in a series of actions Republicans are taking in coming weeks to reverse years of what they call excessive regulation during Obama’s presidency.
This photo, released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), a long-range S-200 missile is fired in a military drill in the port city of Bushehr, on the northern coast of Persian Gulf, Iran.Source:AP
IRAN FIRES BACK AT TRUMP WARNING
IRAN has rejected a warning from US President Donald Trump’s administration over its latest missile test as unfounded and “provocative”.
“Claims made by US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser are baseless, repetitive and provocative,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said, quoted by its state news agency.
Mr Trump on Thursday tweeted that Iran was “on notice” after testing a ballistic missile. He also claimed the country was on its “last legs” before the nuclear deal struck under his predecessor.
Senior Trump administration officials said they were actively considering a “range of options” including economic measures and increased support for Iran’s regional adversaries.
The officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, declined repeatedly to say whether military action was being considered.
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn tells the media that Iran is on notice. Picture: APSource:AP
WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS YEMEN RAID
“When you think of the loss of life throughout America and institutions and in terms of the world, in terms of what some of the individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, referring to the people targeted in the attack.
He was defending a US special forces raid in Yemen as a success even though some civilians and an American soldier were killed.
One US serviceman died and four others were wounded in the attack on Sunday, the first major US military action since Donald Trump became president.
The tax code does allow a wide range of political activity by houses of worship, including speaking out on social issues and organising congregants to vote. But churches cannot endorse a candidate or engage in partisan advocacy.
Lloyd Mayer, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, told the Associated Press that a full repeal of the rule could open up churches to the possibility of spending their resources to openly try to influence elections - and for donors to get tax breaks for political contributions.
What do you REALLY think, Mr President? From an official White House photograph of the phone call between President Trump and Prime Minister Turnbull.Source:Supplied
TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN ON AUSSIE STOUSH
It came as Mr Trump refused to back down from his spat with Mr Turnbull by declaring he needs to make “tough phone calls” because nations are taking advantage of America.
At a speech in Washington DC, President Trump said the world was in trouble but he was “going to straighten it out”.
“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it,” Mr Trump told the audience. “Just don’t worry about it.
“They’re tough. We have to be tough,” he said. “It’s time we have to be a little tough folks.
“We are taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. It’s not going to happen anymore.”
“I called Australia’s Ambassador to the United States this morning to express my unwavering support for the US-Australia alliance,” Senator McCain, who’s frequently criticised President Trump, said in a statement.
US Senator John McCain has defended Australia against Donald Trump. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
Senator McCain added that he asked Mr Hockey to “convey to the people of Australia” that Americans value their alliance, “honour the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote.”
The Washington Post revealed yesterday a weekend call between Mr Trump and Mr Turnbull had ended abruptly.
The president in a tweet called an asylum seeker deal between Australia and former US President Barack Obama “dumb”.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks said Donald Trump was “unbelievably disappointed” with the refugee deal. Picture: APSource:AP
White House press secretary Sean Spicer however described the chat between the two men as “cordial”.
Mr Spicer said that Mr Trump would allow the refugee deal, struck under the previous Obama administration, to continue but would reserve the right to deny any refugee on a case-by-case basis.
“He does not like it but out of respect for (Mr Turnbull) he is going to allow that the process to continue,” he said. “Under the conditions that have been set that there will be extreme vetting on every single one of those individuals.”
“He wants to ensure while he has respect for the Australian people, respect for Prime Minister Turnbull, that we do not pose a threat to the American people,” he said.
TRUMP THREATENS TO WITHDRAW FEDERAL FUNDS
Mr Trump threatened to withdraw federal funding from the University of California at Berkeley following violent protests on campus against a planned appearance by a controversial editor of ultra-conservative news website Breitbart.
Hundreds of students and other protesters chanting “shut him down” smashed windows at the California campus, set wooden pallets on fire and threw fireworks and rocks as police in full riot gear responded with teargas.
Protesters watch a fire on Sproul Plaza during a rally against the scheduled speaking appearance by Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos on the University of California at Berkeley campus. Picture: APSource:AP
The university was placed on lockdown as the sold-out appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative firebrand, was cancelled Wednesday evening.
“If UC Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
Mr Trump’s top political adviser Stephen Bannon is the former chairman of Breitbart News.
US President Donald Trump with Senior CounsellorStephen Bannon. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
Milo Yiannopoulos was meant to visit UC Berkeley. Picture: APSource:AP
Yiannopoulos, who is the Breitbart technology editor, is known for his provocative social media posts and was banned from Twitter in July for fuelling abuse directed at Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.
The British journalist is a vocal supporter of Mr Trump — nicknaming the US president “Daddy” during his election campaign — and has become one of the faces of America’s “alt-right” movement.
Similar protests at the University of California at Davis last month also forced the cancellation of speeches by Mr Yiannopoulos and former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli.
PRISON HOSTAGE SITUATION OVER TRUMP
Delaware prison officials say one hostage is dead and a second is alert and talking after authorities entered a building at the state’s largest prison where inmates had taken staff members hostage.
Inmates at the James T Vaughn Correctional Centre in Smyrna, Delaware told a local newspaper that concerns about their treatment and the leadership of the United States had prompted their actions.
The inmates took four corrections department workers hostage at 10.30am on Wednesday (2.30am AEDT Thursday).
Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, Delaware remains on lockdown following a hostage situation. Picture: APSource:AP
An inmate told The News Journal in Wilmington their reasons “for doing what we’re doing” included “Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now. We know that the institution is going to change for the worse.”
That caller reportedly said their main concern was proper education for prisoners.
They also said they want effective rehabilitation for all prisoners and information about how money is allocated to prisons.
Emergency vehicles drive into the Vaughn Correctional Centre near Smyrna, Delaware after all Delaware prisons went on lockdown. Picture: APSource:AP