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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- Photos released by North Korean state media purporting to show the demolition of North Korea's nuclear test site earlier Thursday.At Thursday's Pentagon briefing, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the U.S. is assessing the pictures of what happened."We're looking at pictures of it right now," said McKenzie. "And we don't have a final assessment, they obviously did some visible destruction of the entrance to the tunnel. I don't have a better answer for you than that right now."Journalists from around the world flew from Beijing to Wonsan, on the east coast of North Korea, Tuesday and were taken on a long journey to the nuclear site near the village of Punggye-ri.North Korean state media previously reported the dismantlement process would involve "collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts" and that foreign media were invited to cover the event to show the process in a "transparent manner."
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  • Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration is blaming North Korea for President Donald Trump canceling his summit with Kim Jong Un, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the country's recent rhetoric showed they were unprepared to meet."We did not walk away from this," Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday. "I regret the statements that the North Koreans have made over the past few days and the fact that we've not been able to conduct the preparation between our two teams that would be necessary to have a chance for a successful summit."But Democrats weren't buying it, arguing the administration had mishandled the opportunity, blaming tough talk from top officials for sending the wrong message to Pyongyang."The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal," said the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.President Trump released a letter this morning, which the State Department had transmitted to North Korea and Kim Jong Un, saying he was canceling their meeting scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. He cited "the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement" and said the cancellation was "for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world."North Korea had released a statement Thursday that bashed Vice President Mike Pence for "ignorant and stupid" comments, in which he cited the so-called "Libya model" for North Korea's denuclearization and said the U.S. still has the military option for solving the North Korean crisis on the table.In 2003, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his nuclear weapons in exchange for normalized relations with the U.S., but to many, including North Korea, the model includes Gaddafi's overthrow, aided by western airstrikes, and his violent death seven years later."We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us. Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States," said Choe Son-hui, a vice foreign minister, in a statement on North Koran state television KCNA.Trump seemed to respond directly to that threat of war in his letter, writing, "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used."But Pompeo, who read the letter at the top of the hearing, said plans for the summit had begun to fall apart over the few days, with the administration getting "a lot of dial tones" when reaching out to North Korea. That includes a planning meeting in Singapore last week where the North Koreans did not show up, according to a senior White House official."Over the past many days we have endeavored to do what Chairman Kim and I had agreed, was to put teams, preparation teams together to begin to work to prepare for the summit, and we have received no response to our inquiries from them," Pompeo said.Democrats blamed a lack of understanding of North Korea and multiple references by Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton to the "Libya model.""The 'Libya model' as Kim Jong Un has been interpreting it is where leader surrenders their nuclear capability only to then be overthrown and killed," said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. "Why would you think that there would be any other interpretation than what happened to Gaddafi at the end of his denuclearization, which is that he wound up dead? Why think that that would not, in fact, elicit hostility from a negotiating partner only three weeks from sitting down across the table?"Pompeo rejected that argument, saying in his conversations with Kim, he made clear the U.S. would provide security assurances long after they struck a deal. Pompeo has met Kim twice, as CIA Director and Secretary of State – the highest-ranking U.S. official to do so, meeting for more than three
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- South Korea President Moon Jae-in says he is "baffled and very regretful" that President Donald Trump cancelled the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore that had been set for June 12.South Korea did not have any advance notice and was caught off guard Thursday by the cancellation, according to the country's presidential office.Urging both leaders to resolve the issue "by direct and closer conversations," Moon noted that "it is difficult to solve the sensitive and difficult diplomatic problems through the current way of communication," the presidency, called the Blue House, said in a statement."Denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and permanent peace is a historic task that could not be given up, nor delayed," he said in the statement after an hour-long emergency National Security Council meeting.Trump said in a letter to Kim Thursday that it would be "inappropriate" to hold the summit next month as planned because of what he called "tremendous anger and open hostility" in a statement this week from a North Korean official.The cancellation, Trump said in remarks later in the day, was a "tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world."There were split opinions among residents in South Korea on the cancellation of the summit, some backing up Trump's surprising move Thursday.“Trump said he won’t have talks? Why?” A food vendor named Choi Young-sook asked. “I think [Trump] cancelled the meeting because he expects more from North Korea. He is trying to get a head start.”“President Trump showed off his negotiating skills this time, by not being swayed by North Korea’s continuous threats and breaking promises,” said Cho Youngtak, a psychiatry resident in Asan Medical Center in South Korea. “In the long term, the decision will bring South Korea and U.S. to a better position in bargaining.”Meanwhile, some people were frustrated that the historic meeting was called off.“I thought [the] North Korea-U.S. summit would bring peace to Korea,” a college student Lee Myoung Suk said. "It would have ended in a greater peace if South Korea joined for a three-party talk."“But when will be the appropriate time?” a Malaysian student attending a South Korean university asked, while a local engineer added, “There is always turmoil, so sooner is better than later.”
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(CARTAGENA, Colombia) -- Billions of dollars worth of treasure and spoils from an 18th century shipwreck, found by a robotic submarine, will be put on display in Colombia.The wreck of the Spanish ship called San Jose was found in 2015 off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.Often called the "holy grail of shipwrecks," WHOI said the search uncovered treasure including gold, silver and emeralds on the ship, which was sunk in 1708 during the War of Spanish Succession.To find the wreck, a team led by Maritime Archaeology Consultants utilized an underwater robot called the REMUS 6000."The REMUS 6000 was the ideal tool for the job, since it’s capable of conducting long-duration missions over wide areas," said WHOI engineer and expedition leader Mike Purcell.The newfound treasure will be displayed in a new museum built by the Colombian Government, according to a statement. The exhibit will include other artifacts from the ship such as cannons and ceramics.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(DUBLIN) -- Ads trying to influence the abortion referendum in Ireland are still appearing online despite a ban from Facebook, Google, and Twitter, according to an organization tracking the issue.The Transparent Referendum Initiative (TRI), which is a civic initiative tracking and calling for regulation of online political ads, told ABC News that it has seen hundreds of ads since the bans were introduced in early May.Ireland goes to the polls Friday to vote on whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment to its Constitution, which bans abortion in nearly all circumstances. A yes vote would leave the way clear for the government to implement more liberal abortion laws.The campaign has been plagued from the start amid concern from experts that some campaign ads were being funded by U.S. based anti-abortion groups. In response, Facebook announced on May 8 it was banning all foreign-funded ads related to Ireland’s abortion referendum.The following day, Google announced a more drastic ban saying they were prohibiting any ads related to the referendum regardless of their funding origin. Twitter did not allow ads related to the referendum from the start.Craig Dwyer, co-founder of the TRI, told ABC News that it’s members continue to see referendum related ads on Facebook and Google.“We’re seeing multiple Facebook ads of unknown origin and despite Google banning all ads, we’re being send numerous screen grabs every day showing referendum related ads on news sites, gaming platforms and more," said Dwyer. “Advertisers are obviously finding ways around these bans.”The TRI has a Google Chrome and Firefox plugin that users can install to track all the ads they’re seeing on Facebook.Since launching in February the Initiative has built a database of 1,299 Facebook ads from more than 600 users. Notably, only 38 percent of these advertisers are registered with SIPO, the organization overseeing political donations in Ireland. This leaves a large swathe of unregistered and unaffiliated advertisers.“Since the Facebook ban, we’re no longer seeing ads from organizations that are overtly based outside of Ireland,” said Dwyer.Prior to the ban, Dwyer said the TRI found ads both overtly and covertly funded by organizations in the U.S., Britain, and Canada. However, without any verification of advertisers, it’s very difficult to know where the ads are coming from.“Facebook tells us that it’s using a machine learning to determine where accounts are being administered from so, for now, that appears to be working,” Dwyer said.Facebook has removed a number of accounts that were portraying themselves as neutral while really pushing for a no vote or pro-life arguments, such as "Still Unsure about the 8th." However, often these ads appear again under a different name.Dwyer is quick to point out that the Institute is not necessarily calling for a ban on political ads.“A ban isn’t something that we’d advocate for, political advertising should be allowed but it must be correctly regulated,” he added.Currently, there's no regulatory authority covering online ads and the legislation around political advertising dates back to the 1990s.Facebook is on schedule to launch a new transparency tool for political advertisers in the U.S. this June ahead of the midterm elections, the company told ABC News. Political advertisers will have to go through an authorization process to verify who they are and who's funding the ads. The social media company does intend to release these restrictions globally, but there's no set deadline as of yet.
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