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Monday
Aug142017

One dead, 7 injured after car plows into pizzeria near Paris

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- At least one person is dead and seven others are injured after a driver drove into patrons at a restaurant in a suburb northeast of Paris, a French Interior Minister spokesperson told ABC News.

The spokesperson said the car intentionally plowed into the terrace of a pizzeria in Sept-Sorts. Five people were badly injured, while two others were only slightly wounded.

A suspect has been arrested, according to the spokesperson. The driver's motive is unknown at this time.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug142017

Ukraine denies North Korean missile components came from state-owned factory

STR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ukraine’s government has denied a report that one of its state-owned factories may have supplied the rocket engines North Korea is using in its quest to create a missile capable of hitting the continental United States.

The successful test launches North Korea has carried out in recent months that have prompted fiery rhetoric from President Donald Trump have also surprised experts. The country has been making rapid progress in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Now, a new analysis by an American missile expert, first reported by The New York Times on Monday, says it has identified the engines that are powering these recent missile tests as a type produced by a factory in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

Michael Elleman, a senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told The New York Times he believed that the engines had likely been acquired illegally from workers from Yuzhmash, a Ukrainian factory that has been suffering severe financial difficulties recently. Elleman said he did not believe Yuzhmash's executives or the Ukrainian government were involved in the deal, but that Ukraine was the most likely source of engines. Elleman told the Times he feared that Yuzhmash technicians might be aiding the North Koreans.

“It’s likely that these engines came from Ukraine —- probably illicitly,” Elleman told the Times. “The big question is how many they have and whether the Ukrainians are helping them now. I’m very worried.”

The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleg Turchynov, flatly rejected Elleman's report in a statement. Turchynov said the claims were unfounded and suggested Russian intelligence officials were behind the allegations.

"This information is not based on any grounds, provocative by its content, and most likely provoked by Russian secret services to cover their own crimes,” Turchynov said. “Ukraine has always adhered to all its international commitments, therefore, Ukrainian defense and aerospace complex did not supply weapons and military technology to North Korea.”

A spokesperson for the factory, Yuzhmash, also denied the report, telling ABC News it was "false information."

Elleman’s analysis, published in full on the International Institute for Strategic Studies' website, sought to answer a question that has puzzled experts. Many analysts have wondered how North Korea could have so rapidly produced an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, given that even a year ago its efforts had appeared mired in technical failures.

On May 14, North Korea test launched a new intermediate missile capable of striking Guam. Two months later, on July 4, it launched a more powerful missile that the U.S. military estimates reached an altitude of more than 1,700 miles, making it officially an intercontinental ballistic missile. That launch was met with strong international condemnation and provoked an intense war of words between Trump and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un.

The successful launches abruptly ended a long string of failures during which North Korean rockets often blew up shortly after ignition. North Korea's efforts to build an ICBM seemed to stall until September last year, after which the country moved swiftly from a ground-launch test through to a full successful ICBM launch. Such progress through design stages normally take years, experts have said.

In his analysis, Elleman suggested that North Korea’s rapid progress was due to the fact that it had imported a new foreign-made engine, adapted with foreign expertise. Based on analyzing video of the launches, Elleman said he had narrowed down the recent missiles’ engine type. Elleman said it appeared to be a modified version of a Russian-designed liquid fuel engine, called an RD-250, that was originally mass produced for use in the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal.

During the Soviet Union and up until 2006, Elleman wrote, the engines were produced by Yuzhmash in conjunction with a Russian company, Energomash. But in recent years, Yuzhmash has suffered severe financial problems, recently exacerbated by the economic crisis in Ukraine following the 2014 revolution there and the country's conflict with Russia.

Elleman noted that hundreds of the rocket engines may be stored in Russia in Energomash warehouses as well, but suggested that Yuzhmash’s financial troubles mean that it was the prime suspect as the supplier to North Korea. He wrote he believed criminal networks operating in Ukraine may have collaborated with workers from the plant to acquire some of the spare engines.

Yuzhmash rejected that information in a statement on its website, writing that the claims in The New York Times article "do not correspond to reality" and are “based on an incompetent 'expert' opinion.”

The company said that it had not produced any military-use missile technology since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 and that it complied with an international treaty intended to prevent the spread of ballistic missile technology for armed purposes.

Reached by phone later on Monday, Elleman reiterated that he did not believe either the Ukrainian government or Yuzhmash executives had been involved in supplying the engines but stood by his claim that Ukraine remained the most likely source.

“I think it’s more likely it came from Ukraine, but I can’t be certain,” he said. "We don't have proof that it came from Yuzhmash or any other specific firm."

Elleman added that both Yuzhmash and Energomash were the most likely sources. It would not be the first time North Korea has sought Ukrainian rocket technology. In 2012, Ukraine jailed two North Koreans on espionage charges for attempting to acquire classified technology relating to rocket engines from a Yuzhmash researcher, Yonhap News Agency reported at the time.

Elleman said one of his primary reasons for looking to Yuzhmash was the nature of the modification made by the North Koreans, condensing the engine to a single chamber instead of the usual two. Elleman said two sources had seen an engine with such a modification on display at Dnipro National University, which is closely connected with Yuzhmash.

“It doesn’t mean that Yuzhnoi actually did it,” Elleman said using part of the company's name. But, he said, "that's what leads me to think it's the most likely source."

Yuri A. Mitikov, head of the university's engine design department who has worked with Yuzhmash, told ABC News that it was impossible that the factory had supplied the engine.

“Yuzhmash is a forgotten factory,” Mitikov said of the company's rocket engineering section. “It simply isn’t working.”

Mitikov said that for the past five years, the rocket construction department has only been working one day a week and that most of the rocket engines had been stored in Russia.

He argued U.S. arms control specialists had helped dismantled much of the factories' equipment used for military-use missile construction when Ukraine handed over its nuclear arsenal after 1991.

As for the modified RD-250 engine at the university, Mitikov said there was indeed one in a department lab, but that it was a mock-up for students.

“There’s nothing inside,” he said.

Yuzhmash is currently contracted to produce 12 ‘Zenit’-class rockets for the Russian-owned commercial space company, S7 Sea Launch, according to a statement in June announcing the project.

But otherwise, Yuzhmash largely produces trolleybuses and tractors now.

Elleman said the key point he had been trying to make was that North Korea had not produced the engine that it was using and that it must have been smuggled into the country from Russia or Ukraine.

He praised Ukraine's government for its previous work on arms control and said he believed they needed to investigate whether the engine could have come from its territory.

“The Ukrainian government should investigate, and if they exonerate themselves, then great," he said. "But there is definitely a source somewhere.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug142017

War-torn Yemen now wracked by cholera, with thousands dead and 500,000 sick

iStock/Thinkstock(SANA'A, Yemen) -- As she sat silently in the back seat of the car with her hands around her bowed head, Lena Rabasi listened to her father’s voice while he drove: "God willing, we’ll get there, God willing you’ll get better.’"

Lena, 15, didn’t know if she could believe those words. The drive to the hospital felt too long. She was dizzy, had diarrhea, and felt a penetrating pain in her stomach – her mother next to her had the same symptoms.

“I was scared we wouldn’t be able to get treatment and would die. I knew from our symptoms that we had cholera,” Lena told ABC News via phone from her home in Yemen. “I was scared of the hospital because it was the first time I was going to a hospital. I was scared of needles. I was trying to imagine the doctors because I didn’t know what they would be like.”

Yemen is home to the largest outbreak of cholera in the world, with the total number of suspected cases reaching 500,000 and nearly 2,000 people dying from the disease since April, the World Health Organization said. Every day, an estimated 5,000 more are falling ill.

The U.N. calls the epidemic a “man-made catastrophe” caused by more than two years of devastating war between a Saudi-led military coalition and Iran-backed Houthi fighters.

Cholera, a waterborne disease, is relatively easy to treat.

Almost all people in Yemen sick with suspected cholera who can access health services are surviving. But nearly 15 million people in the country are unable to get basic health care while almost 16 million don’t have access to clean water because of damage to infrastructure from the conflict.

Lena and her family were able to rent a car and drive to a health center supported by Save the Children for treatment, but many others never reach the hospital.

“And if people are lucky and find a hospital the most simple medicine and equipment will be missing," Anas Shahari, Save the Children’s communications manager in Yemen's capital of Sanaa, told ABC News.

"Most hospitals have no oxygen supplies and medicine. Sometimes the sick sleep on the ground in the hallways,” said Shahari, who has visited hospitals in the country.

Shahari said she has seen children receiving treatment in tents, some sitting in chairs because no beds were available. In other cases, patients sleep under trees with their IVs hanging in the branches, he said.

The health system in the war-torn country is collapsing, with more than half of all health facilities closed. Even the ones that are open don’t have enough medicine and equipment and 30,000 health workers have not been paid salaries in nearly a year, according to the World Health Organization.

As a result, millions of people have to travel far to reach any hospital, and many can’t afford the transportation to get there.

“Many people have to borrow money from friends or sell their belongings to afford the transportation to the hospital,” Shahari said. “Others have sold their cows just for the treatment.”

At one hospital, Shahari met a mother and child with cholera who were almost unconscious when they arrived because they were so dehydrated. The family lived six hours away from the hospital in Sanaa and one child died on the way. Shahari didn’t meet the father – he had just heard that his mother had died and had to return for her funeral. The mother had stayed behind although she also had cholera symptoms.

Shahari said he also met one of the first cholera cases in Sanaa: A girl who suffered kidney failure due to dehydration from the cholera. At the time she had no place to go that specialized in cholera. Shahari said he met her father, mother, two sisters, aunt and two other children – a 2-year old and a 1-year-old – from the same family who all had contracted the disease.

Shahari doesn’t know what happened to the girl and her family.

The crisis is hitting the elderly and children the hardest. About 30 percent of those who have died are over the age of 60 while more than 41 percent of those with suspected cases and a quarter of those who have died are children, according to the U.N.

More than 1 million malnourished children aged under 5 in Yemen are living in areas with high levels of cholera at risk of contracting the disease, and one child is being infected with cholera every 35 seconds, says Save the Children.

"Yemen’s health workers are operating in impossible conditions. Thousands of people are sick, but there are not enough hospitals, not enough medicines, not enough clean water. These doctors and nurses are the backbone of the health response – without them we can do nothing in Yemen. They must be paid their wages so that they can continue to save lives," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen has worsened what was already one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The country is on the brink of famine, with over 60 percent of the population not knowing where their next meal will come from. Around 2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished, according to the U.N.

Like many other Yemenis, Lena's family doesn’t have nutritious food – the family's diet consists mainly of bread and sometimes beans. They don’t have water at home and have to buy water that isn’t sanitized. Lena’s parents currently have no income which means that paying for medicine and transportation is not easy. But the family managed to rent a car and then buy medicine that Lena and her mother needed to get better after they got sick in June.

Days later Lena’s 8-year-old brother contracted the disease too. He had diarrhea, felt dizzy and suffered from pain in his stomach just like his sister and mother had. So the family rented a car again and took him to the treatment center.

“I was very worried for him,” said Lena. “He was crying from the pain in his stomach.”

Her brother recovered, but the family wasn’t free from the disease for long. Lena said she got cholera again last week. She was treated, but still feels frail and scared.

“I still feel weak from the disease,” said Lena. “I’m scared that I’ll be sick again because I'm tired of disease.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug142017

Peace rally held in Guam amid North Korea threat

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Amid North Korea's threat of a missile attack against Guam, the U.S. territory's homeland security adviser said Monday there's a 0.000001 percent chance that a missile launched from North Korea would get through the various layers of defense and reach Guam.

Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo said Monday it's business as usual in Guam, with no change of threat levels.

The governor said President Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly, called him at home, vowing that Guam residents will be defended and protected from any attacks.

Roughly 75 people gathered in Guam's capital city of Hagatna, near the statue of Chief Kepuha, Guam's first Catholic chief, on Monday evening local time to call for peace.

The Chamorro people (the indigenous people of Guam) and others stood together with peace signs, chanting, "Peace not war -- that's what our island is for," as the sounds of conch shells and horns from motorists filled the air.

A University of Guam professor from Illinois told ABC News she is fearful of the rhetoric that is being used between North Korean and U.S. leaders. She said she will have to start the first day of school directing her students to a makeshift bunker at the university in the event that sirens begin.

Officials said 30,000 students are returning to school this week.

A Department of Education official said all schools have an emergency response plan and students are trained each month for different kinds of disasters.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug142017

Iranian drone buzzes US aircraft over Persian Gulf

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An Iranian drone came within 1,000 feet of U.S. aircraft during fixed-wing flight operations on the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf Sunday, officials said.

The U.S. Navy characterized the approach of the Iranian drone as "unsafe and unprofessional," adding that the drone failed to use navigation lights at night, which "created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision."

The drone "made several passes in close proximity to Nimitz and its escort ships during active flight operations, coming within 1,000 feet of U.S. aircraft" and was unresponsive to repeated radio calls to establish communications, the Navy said in a statement today. - This is the 14th unsafe and/or unprofessional interaction between U.S. and Iranian maritime forces in 2017.

An Iranian drone came within 100 feet of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 fighter jet last week that was waiting to land on the Nimitz aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

That jet was in a holding pattern about 1,000 feet above the Nimitz when the unarmed drone performed an "unsafe and unprofessional altitude change" in its vicinity, a U.S. official said. The Iranian drone came 100 feet underneath and 200 feet horizontally from the U.S. jet, the official said.

Similar to Sunday's incident, the drone did not respond to warnings in the form of radio calls, prompting the jet to maneuver to avoid a collision, a second official told ABC News last week.

 Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug142017

Haitians chasing false promises flee from United States to Canada

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of Haitians with uncertain immigration status have fled the United States in recent weeks, walking across the New York border into Quebec seeking a safe haven in Canada, according to the United Nations' refugee agency and Canadian immigration lawyers.

An influx of asylum seekers has put a strain on Canadian authorities, which has led them to build tents on the border, shift resources and set up new shelter space. The influx has in part been from Haitians living in the U.S. who say they fear the Trump administration will soon end their protected status in the country, sending them back to Haiti.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has suggested that a program that allows Haitians to reside in the United States -- set up after an earthquake devastated their country in 2010 -- may end in January. Many Haitians crossing into Canada are saying they fear their protected status in the U.S. would soon end, according to the UN and immigration attorneys.

Inaccurate information spread through word of mouth and via social media has left many Haitians in the U.S. with the impression that Canada would be more willing to accept them as refugees, according to the UN, lawyers, and a community organization for Haitians in Canada. But Canada offers fewer protections than they would get south of the border. In the U.S., many Haitians have temporary protected status (TPS), meaning they can remain in the country without being deported; a similar program ended in Canada in 2014.

“When they come to the border, the way they are being received is welcome, it’s warm,” Chantal Ismé, the vice president of the board of directors of La Maison d’Haïti, a Haitian community and cultural center in Montreal, told ABC News. “But it’s a way of functioning. It’s not pushing aside the laws. And Canada will apply the law.”

Summer rush

During the first six months of this year, Canadian authorities apprehended 4,345 asylum seekers crossing the border illegally -- over three quarters of whom were picked up in Quebec, according to government figures. The Canada Border Services Agency would not say how many were from Haiti, although it did say Haitian was the most common nationality in that time period.

In the winter months following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Canada saw a spike in illegal crossings as those concerned about Donald Trump enacting tough immigration policy sought asylum there. "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted soon after Trump's presidential inauguration in January.


In the spring months there was a dropoff, but the flow picked up again as temperatures rose and school let out. Numbers have especially fluctuated just north of Champlain, New York, near the official entry point at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, Nicholas Dorion, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, told ABC News.

At the end of June, around 50 migrants were crossing each day, and in the last few weeks, the daily average jumped to 150-200 -- around 70 percent of whom were Haitian, and many of whom had been in the U.S. for years, according to Jean-Nicolas Beuze, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' representative in Canada.

Stéphane Handfield, an immigration lawyer in Montreal whose firm represents over 100 Haitians who have recently crossed the border, told ABC News the daily rate was even higher. The Canadian government has yet to release figures for July or August, but Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board said Friday that thousands were believed to have crossed into Quebec "in the last month.”

“We have seen a shift of much more Haitians coming to Canada,” Beuze told ABC News.

Many of those fleeing the U.S. take taxis to one rural New York road that ends at the Canadian border, then walk a few yards across vegetation -- in an instant, leaving behind their lives in the U.S. -- and are, as they expect, promptly detained and processed by Canadian authorities. This is the first step in their asylum-claim process. One day last week, a young girl wearing a Hello Kitty backpack over her puffy winter coat was met by an officer after the quick walk -- just one of many children who have come along for the journey.

As shelters overflowed this month, 900 cots were rolled out in Montreal's Olympic stadium for asylum-seekers; 90 percent of the 800 people there last week were Haitian, Cédric Essiminy, a spokesman for the stadium, told ABC News. Nearly 100 Canadian soldiers were deployed to the Quebec border on Wednesday to set up a temporary camp for around 500 people, the Canadian Armed Forces said.

False promises

Haitians walking across often have wrong impressions about the likelihood they could stay in Canada in the long term, according to Canadians helping them.

Around 60,000 Haitians in the U.S. have been protected from deportation through TPS, which was initiated following the 2010 earthquake that devastated their country. In May, then-U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly extended the program through January, but he suggested he might end it then.

“I believe there are indications that Haiti -- if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continues at pace -- may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018,” said Kelly, now the White House chief of staff.

While false information has spread over social media and in Haitian diaspora media that Canada would welcome them with open arms, in fact, Canada’s post-earthquake protected status program for Haitians ran out in 2014.

Haitians are afforded no special protections in the country, and refugee claims are examined under the same criteria used in the U.S. In 2016, 51.2 percent of Haitians’ claims that were processed were accepted in Canada, according to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, just a few points higher than the United States’ acceptance rate, according to the UNHCR.

“It’s true that Canada is welcoming, but in order to stay in Canada as a refugee, you need to have a valid claim, and I’m not sure all of those people crossing the border have valid claims,” Jean-Sébastien Boudreault, president of the Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association, told ABC News.

Farah Larrieux, a Haitian TV personality in Miramar, Florida, said panic is pushing the spread of erroneous rumors, like a WhatsApp message she received in June saying Canada would cover Haitians’ immigration costs.

“There’s a lot of information circulating within the different Haitian communities, in New York, in New Jersey, in south Florida, where they inform people that the Canadian government is waiting to welcome people,” Larrieux, who herself holds temporary protected status in the U.S., told ABC News.

The fear is leading people who are safe in the U.S. for now to put themselves at greater risk.

"Some of them, they didn’t know that if they get refused, Canada will send them back to Haiti," Handfield, the immigration lawyer, said. "I’m pretty sure that a lot of them will get refused as refugees in Canada.”

‘Nobody has a crystal ball’


Haitians aren’t the only ones crossing into Canada -- although they were the most common nationality during the first six months of this year, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. Sudanese, Turkish, Eritrean, and American asylum-seekers were also common, the agency said.

Quebec serves as a particular draw to Haitian asylum seekers because of a shared language -- French -- and as the home to 90 percent of the 150,000 Haitians living in Canada, according to Ismé, of La Maison d’Haïti. Most live in the Montreal area, where the community has helped the newcomers find housing, furniture, and healthcare, and is pushing for access to schooling, she told ABC News.

Beuze, the UNHCR representative, said that the numbers so far are “completely manageable” but that it was difficult to predict whether the flood will continue.

“Nobody has a crystal ball,” he said. “It’s a very individual decision at the end of the day, to decide to leave everything behind and come to Canada. And it’s not a light one.”

 Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug132017

Top South Korean official: Trump comments 'very worrisome,' causing 'confusion'

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump's recent aggressive threats against North Korea appear to have opened new fissures between the United States and its most important ally against Kim Jong Un's regime -- South Korea.

While the country’s new president Moon Jae-in has largely kept quiet and reaffirmed the strategic alliance with the U.S., his outspoken top aide, Moon Chung-in, openly criticized Trump for his bellicose language.

“This is very unusual. We do not expect that the president of the United States would make that kind of statement,” the South Korean ambassador-at-large for international security told ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz. “It is very worrisome for the president of the United States to fuel the crisis.”

Ambassador Moon said the South Korean president -- a member of the country's liberal party who was elected in May -- wanted the U.S. president to tone down his rhetoric, a message he conveyed to Trump when they spoke on the phone last Monday.

But, 24 hours after that call, Trump vowed to unleash “fire and fury” on Kim Jong Un's regime, leaving President Moon’s administration “somewhat concerned,” his aide said. What followed was a week of escalating warnings from the U.S., culminating in the president's promise that America's military was “locked and loaded.”

North Korea, of course, responded in kind, using the same pugnacious language its propaganda machine has fired off for years, but also specifically threatening to strike around Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific that is home to about 200,000 American citizens and a major U.S. military presence.

Kicking the threats made into higher gear the situation more dangerous, Ambassador Moon said. He said both sides should rein it in, a rare rebuke from South Korea of its protector, the U.S.

“It is a chicken game, but I think what is needed right now is mutual restraint,” he said.

The disagreement between the Washington, D.C., and Seoul, however small, is exactly what North Korea wants, according to experts who say the outlaw regime in Pyongyang seeks to destroy the South Korean-American alliance and unify the two Koreas under its communist rule.

These aren’t the first disputes between the two allies.

Trump has angered some South Koreans with his demand that the longtime American ally pay up for U.S. defense, including the THAAD missile system. The weapon system, which could shoot down incoming ballistic missiles from the North, is controversial in South Korea because of its environmental as well as economic impact.

China, too, is concerned about the missile-defense system because of its advanced radar capabilities and has responded with a boycott of tourism to South Korea, impacting the country's businesses.

On a separate note, Trump has also argued that South Korea is cheating the U.S. through an unfair trade advantage, demanding that the two countries renegotiate trade agreements toward equalizing their trade deficit.

Ambassador Moon criticized the Trump administration for what he said was a lack of clarity over North Korea. The White House has been knocked for sending mixed signals on North Korea, including on whether the U.S. supports talks with the North and whether it seeks regime change.

“I really don’t see a unified message. There is confusion,” the South Korean ambassador said. “We are very much confused. We think the American government has moved from ‘strategic patience’ of the Obama administration into strategic confusion.”

For eight years, Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” called for ignoring the Kim regime and seeking to increase its international isolation. The Trump administration has derided that strategy, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announcing on a trip to the region in February, “The era of ‘strategic patience’ is over.”

But it is unclear what exactly has replaced it. Tillerson has extended an olive branch to Kim Jong Un if he halts his ballistic missile tests, a position he reiterated earlier this month. But, in contrast, one week earlier, Vice President Mike Pence told The Wall Street Journal that the right strategy doesn’t involve “engaging North Korea directly.”

Ambassador Moon is one of the leading advocates of South Korea's “sunshine policy,” which favors dialogue with North Korea and peaceful co-existence alongside its regime.

That sounds similar to Tillerson, who has said repeatedly that the Trump administration does not seek regime change in North Korea, even telling Kim Jong Un, “We are not your enemy.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, however, alluded to plans to eliminate the 33-year old leader, answering a question about regime change by saying, “I'm hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from that" ballistic missile system.

He added, "The North Korean people, I'm sure, are lovely people and would love to see him go as well.”

Still, despite the differences, Ambassador Moon said the U.S.-South Korean alliance was strong and would remain united against Pyongyang’s provocations. And leaders from both administrations have remained in touch throughout the week, with the two national security advisers speaking Friday.

But with millions of South Koreans caught in the crosshairs, Moon suggested the country's leadership hopes to see a change in Trump's approach to North Korea: “We hope that President Trump will come up with the diplomatic skill to deal with the current crisis.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug132017

Several deaths reported in Burkina Faso attack

iStock/Thinkstock(OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso) -- At least 17 people were killed in a "terrorist attack" on Sunday in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, according to the country's government.

Three gunmen opened fire on customers seated outside Hotel Bravia and the Aziz Istanbul Restaurant, witnesses were quoted as saying, the BBC reports.

The U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso warned citizens to avoid the area.

"We are following reports of gunshots in downtown Ouagadougou, we urge U.S. Citizens to shelter in place and avoid the area," the embassy said in a statement on Twitter.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug132017

Letter from Queen Elizabeth about Princess Diana's death comes to light

Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A letter by Queen Elizabeth six days after Princess Diana's death has come to light.

The letter from Queen Elizabeth to one of her closest aides, Lady Henriette Abel Smith, a lady in waiting, gives a rare glimpse into the depth of emotion that enveloped the royal family in the wake of Princess Diana's death.

"It was indeed dreadfully sad, and she is a huge loss to the country. But the public reaction to her death, and the service in the Abbey, seem to have united people round the world in a rather inspiring way. William and Harry have been so brave and I am very proud of them," Queen Elizabeth wrote in the letter.

Queen Elizabeth was criticized after Princess Diana’s death for remaining in Balmoral with Prince William and Prince Harry, who were mourning their mother, rather than returning to London as tributes poured in from around the world. The handwritten note reveals the anguish Queen Elizabeth felt as her grandchildren struggled with Princess Diana's tragic death.

"I think your letter was one of the first I opened — emotions are still so mixed up but we have all been through a very bad experience!" the queen wrote in her handwritten postscript.

Prince William and Prince Harry were with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Prince Charles at Balmoral as cards, notes and floral tributes flooded in after Princess Diana's death. When the royal family returned to London, William, then 15, and Harry, then 12, were seen with their father looking closely at the sea of floral tributes that stretched from the Kensington Palace gates hundreds of feet through Kensington Palace Gardens to the street.

With the British nation mourning Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth made a rare address to the country the night before Diana's funeral, speaking she said "as a monarch and a grandmother." The broadcast from Buckingham Palace, which has become a defining moment of her monarchy, was clearly spoken from the heart by the Queen, who was dressed in black.

“[Diana] was an exceptional and gifted human being," Queen Elizabeth said. “In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.”

Harry recently opened up publicly for the first time about what it was like to walk behind his mother's coffin. "My mother had just died and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television," Harry told Newsweek magazine in an interview published last month. "I don't think any child should be asked to do that under any circumstances. I don't think it would happen today."

Harry admitted earlier this year the "total chaos" and near breakdown he had after Diana's death. He credited William with encouraging him to get counseling to deal with his grief.

Princess Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, told the BBC last month that it was a "bizarre and cruel thing" for Diana's sons to be forced to walk behind the funeral cortège and that he had been "lied to and told they wanted to do it, which of course they didn't."

The newly-found letter sheds light on the swirling emotions that Queen Elizabeth and the royal family were dealing with in the days following Diana's death. The queen’s poignant broadcast praising Diana will be forever etched in the public's memory.

“I admired and respected her — for her energy and commitment to others, and especially for her devotion to her two boys. This week at Balmoral, we have all been trying to help William and Harry come to terms with the devastating loss that they and the rest of us have suffered,” she said. Kensington Palace recently announced a number of events to mark the 20th anniversary of Diana's death. William and Harry participated in an intimate documentary about their mother, who was just 36 when she died.

"All I can hear is her laugh in my head and that sort of crazy laugh of where there was just pure happiness shown on her face," Harry said in the documentary, "Diana, Our Mother: Life and Legacy." "One of her mottos to me was, you know, 'You can be as naughty as you want, just don't get caught.'"

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug132017

North Korean defector's mission to save his country

ABC News(SEOUL) -- When Kim Jong Un threatens South Korea or even the United States with his armed forces, it’s often the exaggerated threat of an unmatched army of 1 million trained soldiers. But experts are saying that they're concerned that if war broke out, the soldiers of the Korean People’s Army, brainwashed after years of propaganda, would fight to the death.

One man is trying to change that, one balloon at a time.

Dr. Lee Min Bok lives on the South Korean side of the world’s tensest border, in an aluminum structure with his wife, his weather-tracking data and his leaflets.

Whenever the wind is right, he rushes out to blow up an enormous helium balloon, tied to hundreds of leaflets that combat the propaganda machine of the North. With facts about how wealthy and advanced South Korea is compared to the North, Lee’s leaflets encourage North Koreans to think for themselves, reconsider their circumstances and rise up.

“These leaflets are decisive for the people in the North, to educate them and see the truth,” Lee told ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz through a translator. “I am giving them the possibility to change and to revolutionize the regime.”

But how can Lee be so sure that plastic sheets of paper could possibly change hearts and minds? Because one saved his life.

Born and raised in North Korea, he worked in agriculture as a professor. Like all North Koreans are taught, he revered the Kim family. But he first grew disenchanted in the late 1980s after his attempts to innovate the farming techniques were denied, despite the reprieve it would have brought from famine and starvation.

Then, while in the fields one day, he discovered a small leaflet that simply described how North Korea invaded South Korea and began the Korean War -- a reality that defied the regime’s propaganda. He asked village elders, who told him the truth.

“After reading the leaflet, I knew that the North Korean regime was all false, so I decided to flee to the South,” he said.

Staring across the river now, nearly three decades later, Lee said he feels like he’s looking at his hometown, looking at the family he left behind.

“I want to rescue these people out of the country,” he said, noting that he still has family on the other side of the border.

To do that, he now tells his story in leaflets -- how the truth fell from the sky and saved his life. He wants to arm North Koreans with that same knowledge so that they will defy the regime -- a mission so dangerous that he travels with government minders at all times. These are four stone-faced South Korean men who move in a ring around him.

North Korea’s 25 million residents live in poverty and oppression, under a surveillance state that may force them to work, at times even to starve.

The United Nations has reported in 2014 that the regime is responsible for “systemic” and “widespread” human rights violations, including rape, torture, forced abortions and enslavement.

“I just have to say one word,” Lee said when asked what life is like in North Korea. “It is slavery, mentally and physically.”



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North Korean defector's mission to save his country






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