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Trump: ‘Major, major’ conflict with N. Korea possible

President Donald Trump said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programs, but he is hoping for a peaceful solution to the problem, Reuters reported.

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“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview on Thursday.

Trump said he wanted to peacefully resolve the crisis, but is not taking the military option off the table.

"We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he told Reuters during a 42-minute interview.

The president also said he wants South Korea to pay the cost of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense system, which he estimated at $1 billion, and said he intends to renegotiate or terminate a U.S. free trade pact with South Korea because of a deep trade deficit with Seoul, Reuters reported.

Asked when he would announce his intention to renegotiate the pact, Trump said: “Very soon. I’m announcing it now.”

Meanwhile, a  top foreign policy adviser to South Korean presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in said Friday that Trump's suggestion that Seoul foot the bill for the THAAD system would be an "impossible option," Reuters reported.

Israeli missile launch: What is the Patriot Missile Defense System?

The Israeli military deployed its missile defense system Thursday to intercept a drone fired from Syria, officials said.

According to The Associated Press, the incident came after Syria accused Israel of attacking a military installation near Damascus International Airport early Thursday.

While Israel has several defense systems, military officials used the country’s aging Patriot Missile Defense System in Thursday’s incident.

What does the latest Patriot Missile Defense System do?

Here’s a quick look.

What was it designed for?According to the U.S. Army, the latest version of the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System is designed to detect, track and destroy unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), cruise missiles and short-range or tactical ballistic missiles.

What weapon is used in the system?The U.S. Army's Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile, the newest weapon in the Patriot arsenal, is used in the system. 

How does it work?The system, guided by computers, launches Patriot missiles that seek out and destroy targets by slamming into them and exploding.

What does the missile contain?The PAC-3 Missile has a solid propellant rocket motor, 180 small-attitude control motors, a radar seeker, aerodynamic controls and an inertial guidance system, according to Aeroweb.com.

What makes them “mobile?”The missiles are transported by and launched from the M901 launching station, which is mounted on a semitrailer and towed by a tractor. The tractor can carry up to 16 PAC-3 missiles. 

Who operates it?A crew of three operators analyzes incoming threats and responds by launching missiles if necessary.

How does the missile find its target?The PAC-3 missile is directed by a computer to an intercept point. Motors guide the missile directly into the incoming target.

Which countries have the systems?The Patriot Missile Defense System is in service (or on order) in the Republic of China (Taiwan), Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Spain. Poland will soon be getting the system. South Korea purchased a secondhand system from Germany.

Is it the main weapons system in Israel?The county has come to rely on its “Iron Dome” system, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets, and its “Arrow” system, which was built to intercept ballistic missiles outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The new “David’s Sling” missile defense system was introduced earlier this month. It is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and medium- to long-range rockets.

Has Israel used the Patriot system before?Yes, it has. Israel’s system is an older version of the Patriot missile defense system. The last time the country used it was in July 2016, when missiles were fired at a drone believed to have been launched from Syria. Both missiles missed the drone.

What does it cost?Each MIM-104F Patriot PAC-3 missile costs around $3.4 million. The launcher costs $3.8 million.

(Sources: U.S. Army; Aeroweb.com; The Associated Press)

Michael Flynn being investigated by DOD; was warned in 2014 about taking foreign payments

The inspector general of the Department of Defense has opened an investigation into whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn reported money he received for a speaking appearance in Russia.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D-Maryland), released three documents Thursday that confirmed the investigation, ABC News is reporting.

One of the letters Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, released was a letter from the Defense Intelligence Agency stating that they found no record that Flynn had sought permission to speak in Russia, nor had he reported income from that speech.

A U.S. official, which Flynn as a retired military officer would be considered, must, by law, both seek permission and report income derived from any activity with a foreign government.

Flynn once headed the DIA.

CNN is reporting that Flynn also received a warning from the DIA in 2014 against receiving payments from foreign governments without congressional approvalFlynn is alleged to have taken $45,000 for speaking at an engagement in Russia in 2015.

“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” Cummings said in a statement. “Our next step is to get the documents we are seeking from the White House so we can complete our investigation. I thank the Department of Defense for providing us with unclassified versions of these documents.”

Cummings released the documents Thursday, two days after he and House Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz held a press conference to say they believe Flynn broke the law when he failed to get permission for the speech in Russia.Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner, has said that Flynn did discuss his speech with officials at the DIA. Cummings said no proof of that has been found. 

Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about a meeting he had with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. 

7 things to know now: Man kills daughter on Facebook Live; ‘Bachelor’ Chris Soules arrested; sanctuary cities

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Man kills daughter on Facebook Live: A man in Thailand murdered his infant daughter, broadcasting the crime on Facebook Live Tuesday. Wuttisan Wongtalay, 20, hanged his 11-month-old daughter before killing himself. His death was not broadcast on the social media site. His body was found by police next to his daughter, Jullaus Suvannin, according to authorities.

2. Flynn may have broken the law: The leaders of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to violate federal law when he spoke at an event in Russia without first seeking permission from the U.S. government. After speaking at the event, Flynn then failed to report money he received for his appearance. The committee also questioned Flynn’s ties to a businessman who represented Turkey's government. Flynn received $530,000 for consulting work for the man.

3. Judge blocks sanctuary cities plan: Trump’s plan to withhold funding from so-called “sanctuary cities” was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge. According to U.S. District Judge William Orrick, the president does not have the authority to issue an executive order that would attach new conditions on federal spending that has already been approved by Congress.

4. Mother charged with abuse: The mother of the 15-year-old Tennessee girl kidnapped by her teacher last month has been charged with abusing the girl and her nine siblings. The woman is set to appear in court next month on five counts of abuse and neglect.  

5. Fox News sued: A racial discrimination lawsuit against Fox News has been expanded. The suit, filed Tuesday in New York’s Supreme Court, accuses the company of discrimination "that appears more akin to Plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment." The lawsuit was expanded to include eight former and current Fox employees to the case that had been brought by three former Fox employees. Fox News has denied the claims. Kelly Wright, a current Fox News anchor, is among the plaintiffs.

And one more

Chris Soules, a contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” was arrested and charged with “leaving the scene of a fatality motor vehicle accident” Monday in Iowa. Soules' attorneys released a statement Tuesday that read, “Chris Soules was involved in an accident Monday evening (April 24) in a rural part of Iowa near his home. He was devastated to learn that Kenneth Mosher, the other person in the accident, passed away. His thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Mosher’s family." Soules allegedly rear-ended the tractor-trailer Mosher, 66, was driving.

In case you missed it

Lawmakers: Flynn likely broke the law; what is the emoluments clause?

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn likely broke the law when he failed to disclose income he earned from Russia and Turkey, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday.

Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, along with ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, told reporters Tuesday Flynn failed to ask for permission to speak at a 2015 event in Russia or register to lobby on behalf of the government of Turkey. Flynn then failed to report the money he earned for the speaking engagement and lobbying efforts on his personal financial disclosure form when he applied to have his security clearance reinstated to work as national security adviser.

Flynn's consulting firm accepted $530,000 for work with a firm that is associated with Turkey's government. He received $45,000 for his speaking engagement in Russia.

The Associated Press reported Flynn’s lawyer filed paperwork with the Justice Department in February disclosing that he had done lobbying work that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey” between August and November 2016. 

Flynn’s contract ended on Nov. 15, three days before he was appointed Trump’s national security adviser.

Chaffetz and Cummings said they had seen classified memos concerning Flynn’s activities. They also said they saw Flynn’s disclosure form.

“Personally I see no evidence or no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” Chaffetz told reporters.

“He was supposed to get permission, he was supposed to report it, and he didn’t,” Cummings said. 

Flynn was fired as national security adviser in February after he made misleading comments to Vice President Mike Pence about discussions he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

With Flynn's failure to obtain permission from military authorities for the payments and failure to disclose them, the retired general could have violated a constitutional ban on foreign payments to retired military officers.

“The law requires him to seek permission ... from the secretary of state and the Department of Defense,” Chaffetz said. “The response we’re getting is there is no information, and that, we believe, is the potential violation.”

The New York Times story says U.S. Army investigators have found no record that Flynn has "filed the required paperwork for the trip" to Russia in 2015, nor reported the income he received, as is required by the emoluments cause in the U.S. Constitution.

What is the emoluments clause and what does it say? Here’s a quick look.

What is an emolument?

An emolument – in its dictionary definition – is payment for work done or “gain from employment or position.”

So if it’s pay for a service, what’s wrong with that?

Nothing is wrong with it, as long as the “gain” or payment does not come from unauthorized work for a foreign government.

The title of nobility clause, Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution, addresses foreign emoluments, or money paid by a foreign government. The section reads: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” 

What constitutes a violation of the clause?

For a violation of the emoluments clause to have occurred the person must qualify as a U.S. officer and must have accepted an emolument from a foreign government. Flynn would fall under the “U.S. officer” portion of the clause since he is a retired U.S. military officer that had the potential to be called back into active duty.

What happens if you are caught doing that? 

The foreign emoluments clause does not specify a penalty for its violation. Cummings has suggested in a letter to President Donald Trump that if Flynn violated the clause, then he owes the U.S. the amount of money he received from Russia and Turkey.

Flynn claims he received his fee from Russia Today, a state-owned television station, not the Russian government, thus he did not take pay from a foreign government. RT paid Leading Authorities, a private firm that arranges for speakers for events, according to the Yale Journal on Regulation.

7 things to know now: Arkansas executions; O'Reilly speaks; Hannity accusations walked back

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now

1. Arkansas executions: Arkansas executed two inmates hours apart on Monday night after a U.S. district judge first issued a stay, then lifted it about an hour later. Jack Jones was executed first, then attorneys for Marcel Williams questioned whether Jones suffered unnecessarily during his execution. Williams was put to death just after 10 p.m. It’s been 17 years since two men were executed on the same day at the same prison.

2. O’Reilly speaks: Bill O’Reilly said he was surprised to be fired from the Fox News Channel amid allegations he sexually harassed women and vowed that “the truth will come out.” O’Reilly talked Monday about his firing on a podcast broadcast on his personal website. "I was very surprised how it all turned out." O'Reilly said. “… I can tell you that I'm very confident the truth will come out and when it does, I don't know if you're going to be surprised, but I think you're going to be shaken, as I am.”

3. Dealing on border funds: President Donald Trump told a group of conservative media reporters on Monday that he would be willing to delay his demand that any government spending legislation includes funds to build a border wall. Trump said he would wait until the fall to press for the money to build the wall so a bipartisan deal on a bill to continue funding the government could go ahead this week. If a bill is not passed by Friday, some government services will shut down.

4. Senate to hear briefing: Every member of the U.S. Senate has been invited to the White House on Wednesday for a briefing on the situation in North Korea, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The briefing will include updates from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Spicer said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Kentucky), convened the meeting.

5. Moran died from cancer: Former actress Erin Moran, who was found dead on Saturday in a small town in Indiana, “likely succumbed to complications of cancer,” the Harrison County Coroner’s Office said in a statement on Monday. Moran, 56, had suffered from stage four cancer, according to the statement. She starred in the sitcom “Happy Days.”

And one more

A woman who claims Fox News host Sean Hannity invited her back to his hotel room when they were together at a book signing years ago said Monday that she had not intended to accuse the Fox News host of sexual harassment. Debbie Schlussel told LawNewz Network on Monday that she did not accuse Hannity of sexual harassment during a radio interview Friday, but simply meant she found his behavior “weird and creepy.” Schlussel said Hannity’s actions did not rise to the level of sexual harassment. Hannity threatened to sue Schlussel over comments she made in the radio interview. 

In case you missed it 

This should be a lot easier to parallel park.

 

 

 

Heist in South America is ‘robbery of the century’

Authorities are calling a heist in South America the “robbery of the century” after dozens of gunmen stormed a private security firm in Paraguay, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

More than 50 people carrying large caliber weapons detonated explosives and set vehicles on fire as they stole millions of dollars and sparked a violent police chase into Brazil, CNN reported. One police officer was killed and another was injured, along with three bystanders.

The group escaped with money from several vaults inside Prosegur, a private security firm in Ciudad del Este, police said.

Police initially said the vaults could store up to $40 million, but neither authorities nor the firm confirmed the amount of money that was stolen.

Ciudad del Este is Paraguay's second-largest city, located along the border with Brazil and Argentina.

Authorities believe the robbers were members of Primer Comando de la Capital, one of the largest criminal organizations in Brazil.

The robbers were able to cross the border into Brazil, CNN reported. A small group was intercepted by Brazilian police about 50 miles from Ciudad del Este, officials said.

Three suspects were killed and four were arrested during the confrontation, a spokesman with Paraguay's Interior Ministry said in a news release.

Report: N. Korea conducts large-scale artillery drills on anniversary

North Korea conducted large-scale artillery exercises on Tuesday to coincide with the 85th anniversary of its army’s foundation, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Citing an unidentified South Korean government source, Yonhap reported that there were signs North Korea's military was carrying out large-scale, live-fire drills in areas around the east coast city of Wonsan.

South Korea's defense ministry could not immediately confirm the report, according to Reuters.

North Korea warned that the United States will have to choose between political and military surrender, according to the Yonhap report.

"If the U.S. and warmongers run amok with a reckless preemptive strike, we will stage the most brutal punishment of a preemptive attack in the sky and land as well as at sea and from underwater without any warning or prior notice," according to Rodong Sinmun, spokesman of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

12-year-old caught after driving 800 miles across Australia

A 12-year-old boy who was trying to drive across Australia was stopped by police 800 miles into his journey, the BBC reported.

>> Read more trending news

The boy was pulled over near the mining town of Broken Hill in the New South Wales outback on Saturday after a patrol noticed the car's bumper dragging on the ground.

Police said the boy had been trying to drive from Kendall in New South Wales to Perth in Western Australia.

He was arrested and taken to the Broken Hill police station, the BBC reported.

His parents, who had reported him missing, picked him up Sunday, the BBC reported.

Detective Inspector Kim Fehon told the Evening Standard that the boy had taken the family car. “His parents reported him missing immediately after he left home, so they were looking for him.” 

It was likely the boy would be charged under the Young Offenders Act in connection with three offenses, including failing to pay for gasoline and driving without a license, police told The Guardian.

Competitor helps fellow runner complete London Marathon

LONDON -- A competitor at the London Marathon exhibited some fine sportsmanship Sunday by helping a fellow runner cross the finish line, the BBC reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Matthew Rees put his arm around David Wyeth, who was struggling to reach the finish line, and guided him the final 150 yards to finish the race.

The pair were cheered home by Princes William and Harry and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

Former marathon winner and BBC commentator Tanni Grey Thompson tweeted: "Matthew Rees refuses to give up helping David Wyeth across the line. Wow."

London Marathon tweeted: "Matthew Rees, you've just encompassed everything that's so special about the #LondonMarathon. We salute you.”

In Sunday’s race, Kenya’s Mary Keitany broke Paula Radcliffe's women-only marathon world record her third victory in London, while Daniel Wanjiru won the men's race for the first time. 

Keitany, 35, completed the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 17 minutes, 1 second, beating Radcliffe's 12-year-old mark by 41 seconds.

Wanjiru, 24, won his first major marathon in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 48 seconds.

A total of 39,487 runners finished the race, making it the biggest in its 37-year history, according to the London Marathon website.

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