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Images indicate North Korea halted dismantling of launch site: think tank

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Satellite photos from last week indicate North Korea halted work to dismantle a missile engine test site in the first part of August, in spite of a promise to U.S. President Donald Trump at a June summit, a Washington think tank reported on Wednesday.

The 38 North project said commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station taken on Aug. 16 indicated “no significant dismantlement activity” at either the site’s engine test stand or launch pad since Aug. 3.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that reports that North Korea had started dismantling facilities at Sohae were consistent with a commitment North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made at a summit with Trump in Singapore on June 12.

The 38 North report said significant progress in tearing down the test stand had been made from July to early August, but added: “The components previously removed remain stacked on the ground.”

It said work to take down a rail-mounted transfer/processing building at the launch pad also appeared to have stalled and it was not clear if the work that had taken place on that was associated with dismantling or modification of the structure.

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The 38 North report comes at a time of widespread doubts about North Korea’s willingness to go along with U.S. demands for it to give up its nuclear weapons.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a report on Monday that it had not found any indication that North Korea had stopped its nuclear activities.

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In Singapore, Kim agreed in broad terms to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula but he has given no sign he is willing to give up his arsenal unilaterally.

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump defended his efforts to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, saying he believed North Korea had taken specific steps toward denuclearization. He said he would “most likely” meet again with Kim.

However, several members of the U.S. negotiating team said they had seen no progress toward denuclearization and no sign that North Korea was prepared to negotiate seriously until the United States promised relief from sanctions in return.

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North Korea state media last week blamed lack of progress in talks since the summit on members of the U.S. negotiating team and said breaking the deadlock would demand “a bold decision on the part of President Trump.” A commentary in its Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Saturday said those opposed to dialogue were seeking to derail talks by making baseless references to “secret nuclear facilities” in North Korea.

U.S. officials have been trying to persuade North Korea to declare the extent of its weapons programs, something Pyongyang had always refused to do in past failed rounds of talks.

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said this month that Pyongyang had not taken the necessary steps to denuclearize while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Washington was “not willing to wait for too long.”

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Bolton said Trump, in a letter to Kim, had proposed sending Pompeo back to North Korea for what would be his fourth visit this year and that the president was ready to meet with Kim again at any time.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish


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‘We’re better than that!’: Top Democrat unleashes fury on Trump official over migrant children being left in ‘feces’

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House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) brought down the hammer on acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Thursday over his department’s cruel treatment of migrant children.

“You feel like you’re doing a great job, right?” asked Cummings during the day’s committee hearing. “Is that what you’re saying?”

“We’re doing our level best in a very challenging —” McAleenan said, starting to answer, but Cummings cut him off.

“What does that mean?!” Cummings erupted. “What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces. Can’t take a shower. Come on, man! What’s that about?! None of us would have our children in that position. They are human beings. And I’m trying to figure out — and I get tired of folks saying, ‘Oh, oh they’re just beating up the border patrol. Oh, they’re just beating up on Homeland Security.’ What I’m saying is I want to concentrate on these children. And I want to make sure that they’re OK. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. It’s not the deed that you do to a child, it’s the memory. It’s the memory!”

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Dershowitz writes panicky op-ed in anticipation of a New Yorker ‘hit piece’ about him and underage girls

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Trump-defending attorney Alan Dershowitz has written an op-ed for right-wing publication Newsmax that reveals the New Yorker is working on an expose about him and women who have accused him of having sex with them when they were under 18 years old.

In the op-ed, Dershowitz accuses New Yorker editor David Remnick of commissioning "a hit piece against me for the explicit purpose of silencing my defense of President Trump, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the State of Israel."

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Serious questions being raised about Bill Barr’s contributions to Senate Republicans

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Attorney General William Barr, now 69, has a long history of making political donations. But what changed in late 2018 and early 2019, according to a report by Ephrat Livni and David Yanofsky for Quartz, is how many he made — and in the months before his confirmation as U.S. attorney general, there was a sharp increase in Barr’s donations to Senate Republicans.

For their report, Livni and Yanofsky took a close look at the attorney general’s history of political donations. And they describe the donations Barr made from 1993 to mid-2018 as “occasional at best.” But the amount of money Barr donated politically, according to the Quartz reporters, sharply increased “in the lead-up to his Senate confirmation hearings for attorney general earlier this year.”

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