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North Korea says Trump ‘declared a war on our country’ — and threatens to shoot down US bombers

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North Korea’s foreign minister accused US President Donald Trump on Monday of declaring war on his country and warned that Pyongyang would defend itself by shooting down US bombers.

“Trump claimed our leadership would not be around much longer,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters outside his hotel in New York. “He declared a war on our country.”

“All the member states and the whole world should clearly remember it was the United States that first declared war on our country,” Ri said.

“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to take counter-measures including the right to shoot down US strategic bombers even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country,” he said.

“The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then.”

In his first address to the General Assembly, Trump last week threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it challenged America or its allies and derided leader Kim Jong-un as a “rocket man” who was “on a suicide mission.”

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Ri noted that the statement from Trump was “clearly a declaration of war” even if it came from the US president. Under the US Constitution, Congress is the sole power that can declare war.

In his brief address to reporters before heading to the airport, Ri said that the international community had hoped that the “war of words between the DPRK and the United States not turn into real actions.”

The North Korean nuclear crisis has dominated this year’s gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, which wraps up on Monday, amid fears that the heated rhetoric could accidentally trigger a war.

North Korea in recent weeks detonated its sixth nuclear bomb and has test-fired intercontinental missiles — saying it needs to defend itself against hostility from the United States and its allies.

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During his address to the General Assembly on Saturday, Ri launched a personal attack on Trump, calling him a “mentally deranged person full of megalomania.”

Just hours before Ri took the UN podium, US bombers flew off the east coast of North Korea, the furthest north of the demilitarized zone that any US aircraft has flown this century.

The Pentagon said the mission was a “demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat.”

Trump’s threat to destroy North Korea made “our rockets’ visit to the entire US mainland all the more inevitable,” Ri said on Saturday.

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Critics lament as 126 House Democrats join forces with GOP to hand Trump ‘terrifying’ mass domestic spying powers

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Privacy advocates and civil liberties defenders are expressing outrage after the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night voted down a bipartisan amendment designed to end, as one group put it, the U.S. government's "most egregious mass surveillance practices" first revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In a final vote of 253-175, it was 126 Democrats who joined with 127 Republicans to vote against an amendment introduced by Rep Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) that would have closed loopholes in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that critics charge has allowed the NSA to abuse warrantless surveillance capabilities and target the emails, text messages, and internet activity of U.S. citizens and residents. See the full roll call here.

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Pilots, including Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, tell US Congress more training needed on 737 MAX

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US pilots called Wednesday for enhanced pilot training on the Boeing 737 MAX before the aircraft is returned to service after being grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes.

The pilots -- including Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, who famously landed a damaged plane on the Hudson River in New York in 2009 -- pushed back against the aviation giant's assurances that pilots will only need to review the 737 MAX modifications in a computer program.

Daniel Carey, president of the Allied Pilots Association, told a congressional panel he was encouraged by changes Boeing made to a flight system seen as a factor in both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes that killed 346 people.

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Shelling on American interests threaten Iraq’s fine line between Iran, US

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A nearly week-long barrage of anonymous shelling attacks on American interests across Iraq are intended to signal Iran's long reach and "embarrass" Baghdad amid spiralling US-Iran tensions, observers say.

The incidents were not claimed but largely originated from areas where Shiite-dominated armed groups loyal to Tehran and deeply opposed to Washington have free reign.

Starting Friday, mortars and rockets have rained down on the Al-Balad and Taji bases, the Baghdad military airport, and a military command centre in northern Mosul -- all sites where US troops and army equipment are present.

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