• Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Just three weeks before a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump is hosting South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday for talks as they work to assess whether North Korea’s commitment to rid itself of its nuclear program is genuine.Moon has long been a driving force behind the diplomacy between the United States and North Korea, and personally encouraged Trump to meet with Kim. In March, Moon sent special envoys to North Korea to encourage talks between Pyongyang and Washington.Last week, North Korea scrapped a series of follow up high-level talks with South Korea and threatened to cancel the upcoming Singapore summit between Trump and Kim in protest of the ongoing military drills between the United States and South Korea.The White House hasn’t indicated there will be a press conference between Trump and Moon, but this will be the first time the two are able to meet in person to discuss the status of the summit between Trump and Kim, and examine what options are on the table. While the two have spoken over the phone, it will also be their first meeting in person to discuss Moon’s recent summit with Kim.While the surprise threat to cancel the meeting caught the president and the State Department off guard, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was something the administration fully expected.Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview Monday that the administration is still open to the planned summit with Kim.“They asked for the meeting and we continue to be open to it,” Pence told Fox News. “But rest assured that the United States will continue on the path that we are on because this president has made it clear that we will not tolerate North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that threaten the United States and our allies.”The change in tone from North Korea last week went from that the all-smiles meetings between Kim and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to the regime’s chief negotiator Kim Kye Gwan issuing a statement saying he is “totally disappointed” by recent “extremely unjust” comments from U.S. officials and singling out the American demand that North Korea give up all its nuclear weapons before getting anything in return.“We -- we want to see the denuclearization process so completely underway that it’s irreversible,” national security adviser John Bolton said.The North Koreans have sent mixed messages on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.“... If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit,” Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement last week.But while there have been some heated threats to pull out of the June 12 summit, North Korean officials have vowed to dismantle their nuclear testing facility in front of the media this week and appear to be moving forward with closing down the nuclear facility, which is the latest sign of goodwill in the Korean Peninsula.The North Koreans also seemed particularly upset by Bolton, who called on them to do what Libya did more than a decade ago.Bolton has repeatedly said that the administration plans to pursue "the Libya model," which calls for a strict monitoring and inspection plan to ensure North Korea has denuclearized. However, that comparison evoked the country’s descent into chaos following the deadly ouster of Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi.Kim Kye Gwan directly criticized the model in a lengthy statement last week, accusing U.S. officials of "provoking" the country with "unbridled remarks."The president soon publicly undercut Bolton’s so-called Libya model comparison in remarks to reporters in the Oval Office last week.“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all, wh
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --"Shattered in an unsurprised way.”That’s the reaction of Arabic-speaking Israeli-American author Moriel Rothman-Zecher to the paroxysm of violence along the Gaza border this past week, in which Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians amid a mass protest largely against the controversial U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem.Shattered, because of the deaths -- the Palestinian Health Ministry pegs the toll at 60 at least -- but unsurprised, as this recent violence must feel to Rothman-Zecher as though it erupted right from the pages of his just-released novel, Sadness is a White Bird.Rothman-Zecher says he sees his characters in the recent clashes: the Israeli soldier who narrates the book in a wild plea, the Palestinian friend to whom the agony is addressed.“I’ve thought a lot about the individuals who are on both sides of these pictures,” Rothman-Zecher told ABC News, “trying at all points to remember the enormity of every life lost, the enormity of every life taken, both for the families of those who were murdered -- I will actually use that word in some of these cases -- and also the individuals who were sent to shoot and who shot and who took these lives in the context of maintaining a pretty brutal and unjustifiable system.”Sadness follows Jonathan/Yonatan, a border-bouncing young Jew who shares some biographical details with the author -- Israeli-American upbringing, facility in Arabic, Palestinian relationships -- with a crucial distinction: Yonatan (the Israeli version of his name) eventually joins the Israel Defense Forces, while Rothman-Zecher was jailed for refusing to enlist.That protest he largely credits to his slightly-advanced age at the time. (He wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in 2015 about becoming a refusenik.)Rothman-Zecher was in his early twenties when the IDF conscripted him, having first gone to America to study at Middlebury College, where he learned Arabic and encountered Palestinian poetry while conflagrations in Gaza raged continents away. The distance and multiplying viewpoints complicated his thoughts on the conflict, and his expected role in it.Jonathan, meanwhile, is a wider-eyed near-adult returning to Israel in hopes of transforming into a pugilistic Jewish warrior like his grandfather, who evaded the Holocaust by fleeing to the disputed land and serving in the Palmach, the IDF’s elite precursor. The grandfather recalls figures like Moshe Dayan, legends in the still-nascent state for their gritty prowess, and forms the book's walking reminder of the value of Israel to a people so recently faced with extermination.Despite his friendships and erotic awakenings with a pair of Palestinian peers (the protagonist is as heedless of sexual boundaries as he is of national ones), Yonatan eventually finds himself shouldering a firearm amid a demonstration in the West Bank. The novel’s climax challenges whether even the most cherished of connections forged across the Israeli-Palestinian divide can survive the institutionalized militarization of the ceaseless conflict.Israel’s actions earlier last week earned it global condemnation, though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF have maintained that Hamas spurred violence against Israel under the cover of the protests, "using explosives, guns, molotov cocktails, and even arson kites to breach the security fence." The Trump administration enthusiastically backed Israel's response and blamed Hamas for the bloodshed.Rothman-Zecher, who now lives in Ohio, credits his fortunate few years abroad for sparing him the fate of those soldiers deployed into the middle of this toxic yet somehow rote debate.“It’s very easy to imagine myself in the shoes of these soldiers,” he said.“It was very, very easy for me to imagine how, with a few slight tweaks to my own biography, I would have of course enlisted, and if I’d enlisted … I
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With Trump administration members sending mixed messages on the status of trade negotiations with China, lawmakers are urging the White House to clarify its position and to keep the pressure on the Chinese to stop them from stealing intellectual property.Early Monday the president tweeted that, in order to wind down an escalating trade feud between the two countries, China would buy more American products in order to reduce the trade deficit between the two nations.That followed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s declaration over the weekend that the administration was “putting the trade war on hold,” including lifting tariffs that the United States had threatened on China in retaliation for its theft of U.S. intellectual property.Lawmakers including Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer warned that it wasn’t worth it for the U.S. to remove the threat of tariffs on China simply for a one-time promise of an unspecified amount of import purchases.“If nothing else changes, this deal is a win-win for China,” Schumer said Monday.And in a statement that clashed with Trump’s sanguine tweet, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer seemed to warn over the weekend that attaining an unspecified agreement on agricultural products would not achieve more critical long-term goals on intellectual property. He said the U.S. must focus on getting China to agree to reforms such as scrapping requirements that U.S. companies share technology with their Chinese counterparts in order to take part in joint ventures there."Getting China to open its market to more U.S. exports is significant, but the far more important issues revolve around forced technology transfers, cyber theft and the protection of our innovation," Lighthizer’s statement read.Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the Senate’s most vocal China skeptics, echoed Lighthizer’s exhortation in a tweet Monday, shortly after the president’s uppercase and exclamation-laden announcement.Asked about the administration’s evolving China trade strategy, several Republicans said the White House needed to fill them in on what was happening, as most of them had only heard and read media reports about the developing talks over the weekend.“I encourage [the administration] to brief the Hill and let us know where it is because obviously, we’ve been very engaged in concerns about trade issues,” Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., the chairman of a key Asia subcommittee, told ABC.“I heard Secretary Mnuchin’s comments,” on the trade détente, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told ABC as he walked into a meeting with Senate leadership. “I think there was a little difference between [Lighthizer] and himself. I just don’t know the inside.”As the administration continues its discussions with China, Congress is taking some initial steps to curtail the president from giving too much relief to one particular company that is representative of some of China’s trade violations: ZTE, a telecom sanctioned in April over concerns that the Chinese government was using ZTE technology to spy on Americans.Last week a House Appropriations subcommittee approved a measure that would block the Commerce Department from lifting a seven-year ban on ZTE’s ability to purchase U.S. supplies. In a series of tweets last week Trump suggested he was open to easing up on ZTE.Schumer said the Senate will consider additional measures to keep the pressure on that company if necessary and that Democrats will seek support from across the aisle.“I say to President Trump, who knows I genuinely want him to succeed with China: Stay strong. Don't back off sanctions with ZTE. You have to pursue the course or China will continue to enjoy the upper hand,” he said on the Senate floor Monday.
    Read more...
  • DigitalVision/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- A South African man is facing federal charges for his role in allegedly helping a Colorado hunter illegally kill endangered elephants in Zimbabwe and offering similar services to an undercover federal agent, according to an indictment unsealed Monday in Denver.Professional hunter Hanno van Rensburg, 44, of South Africa is facing charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and violations of the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act, which prohibit the hunting and trade of threatened animals, including the African elephant, according to the indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney in Colorado. A warrant has been issued for van Rensburg’s arrest.Federal prosecutors allege that in 2015, van Rensburg was paid $39,195 to help a Colorado hunter shoot an elephant outside of Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park. Van Rensburg and the Colorado hunter -- who is not named in the indictment -- tracked the wounded animal inside the park, the indictment states.Van Rensburg and the Colorado hunter, according to the indictment, “agreed to pay and paid a bribe to the game scouts of between $5,000 and $8,000 so that they could shoot elephants other than the one that was first shot and wounded and kill an elephant inside Gonarezhou National Park, in violation of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wild Life Act.”The indictment alleges that to export the elephant’s ivory, Van Rensburg conspired to tell Zimbabwean authorities that his client, the hunter from Colorado, was actually from South Africa.“To conceal this contrivance, van Rensburg quizzed Colorado hunter on the layout of his house so that Colorado hunter could convincingly answer such questions and successfully represent himself as a South African resident,” according to the indictment.Federal authorities also allege van Rensburg attempted to sell a similar illegal elephant hunting trip to an undercover agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to the indictment, in 2017 van Rensburg told the agent to bring around $9,000 dollars on the trip for “extras,” as in bribes.Hunters are required to buy “tags” if they want to hunt an elephant in Zimbabwe, and van Rensburg allegedly reassured the agent that a limited number of tags was not a problem.“But you know about Zimbabwe, how it works,” van Rensburg allegedly told the agent, according to the indictment. “If they need another tag, they get another tag. You know, that’s the negative part of it. The system is so corrupt. If they need to get it, they will get it. If the client pays the money they will find another tag. I am straightforward with you. Corruption is the rule in Africa.”Van Rensburg did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but one of his former clients is coming to his defense.Charlie Loan, a hunter who is unrelated to the current case, said the indictment comes as a surprise. Loan said he was part of a small group that hired Van Rensburg and his guides for a 10-day South African hunting safari in 2012.“One of the things that we were all really impressed by was the fact that they put a lot of emphasis on conservation,” Loan told ABC News. “Conservation was key in his mind, and that went through his entire staff.”
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo) -- As a vaccination campaign to prevent the spread of Ebola has started today in the Democratic Republic of Congo, most of the country is continuing with its daily lives, unafraid.The latest outbreak of the deadly, extremely contagious virus was declared in the northwestern province of Equateur, more than 300 miles away from the capital."We're used to it," Raymond Wabeno, 51, a driver in the capitol city of Kinshasa told ABC News. This is the fourth outbreak in Equateur province and the ninth outbreak in the DRC, where the virus was first discovered in 1976."Most people know about Ebola, but they don't understand the gravity of the virus or how quickly it can spread," said Wabeno.More than 7,500 doses of vaccines were shipped over the weekend to Equateur province, where authorities declared an outbreak in the remote towns of Bikoro, Iboko and in Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million people.At least 51 cases of hemorrhagic fever have been reported, according to figures provided by the Congo's Ministry of Health. Among those cases, the agency said 28 tested positive for Ebola, including four in Mbandaka."The problem is that we don't know who is contaminated," said Claude Madiata Matondo, 34, a security guard in Kinshasa. "We are told to wash our hands several times a day, but most people are not used to doing that. We live in insecurity -- many of us don't have unlimited access to water."A trip through four different provinces of Congo -- Kasai, Tanganyika, South Kivu and North Kivu -- revealed how little people seem to be concerned. There, much of the population appears to be unaware of the Ebola outbreak. Across the country, more people are known to die of cholera and malaria.Since the current outbreak was declared, Oxfam and other international non-profits have set up chlorine dispensers in schools and on the street. Checks at airports are being conducted and the government says it is providing free healthcare in all areas affected.Millions of dollars from the government and international aid are being poured into the response. Oxfam and Doctors without Borders have launched "outreach teams" in affected communities, to give advice on hygiene precautions in times of outbreaks. Doctors without Borders is also setting up Ebola treatment centers for those who are sick and are currently being treated in hospitals.Authorities and health partners are preparing for the numbers to increase, mainly because Ebola has an incubation period of about 21 days. However, both the ministry and the World Health Organization have said they believe the outbreak can be managed. While the risk of propagation is considered high at a national level, because the outbreak is near a highly-traveled river, the WHO has not declared the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.This time they have a new strategy, as well: Vaccines.The first batch of vaccines are being given to health workers and second batch will be given to all those who have been in contact with someone who has Ebola. For each confirmed case, the WHO estimates there are between 100 and 150 people who are eligible for vaccination.Additional doses of vaccines are remaining in Kinshasa for now. One of the worries is that the virus could spread to the city of 12 million people through the river Congo; many boats travel from Mbandaka to Kinshasa on a regular basis.Launching the vaccination campaign today, the minister of health, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, encouraged citizens to engage fully in the response."Adopting all the protective measures against Ebola is an act of patriotism," he said.The vaccine, developed by Merck, has been used before, in Guinea and Sierra Leone, and has been judged effective and safe according to the WHO. It is currently free and being administered on a voluntary basis. Side effects are possible and recipients are expected to receive check-ups for up to three months according to the ministry of hea
    Read more...
  • Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images(WINDSOR, England) -- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s joy on their wedding day is captured in the official wedding photographs released today by Kensington Palace.Harry and Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, posed in one photo next to a beaming Prince George and Princess Charlotte, along with other members of the wedding party.In another photo, the newlyweds smile brightly amid their family members, including Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, a Los Angeles-based social worker and yoga instructor.Charlotte, 3, is sitting on the lap of her mom, Princess Kate, in the photo, taken in the Green Drawing Room in Windsor Castle.George, 4, is sitting next to his mom and sister in the photo, which also includes Prince William, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Corwnall and the wedding party.The third photo released by the palace is a more intimate shot of Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, alone on the East Terrace of Windsor Castle.The photos were taken by photographer Alexi Lubomirski at Windsor Castle after Harry and Meghan completed a carriage procession that saw them waving to thousands of invited members of the public along the Long Walk.Lubomirski is the same photographer the couple chose last year for their engagement photos, which were shot at Frogmore House at Windsor Castle."It has been an incredible honor and privilege to document The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's inspiring journey of love, hope and family; from the engagement photos, all the way through to the official wedding and family portraits on Saturday," Lubomirski said in a statement. "This has been a beautiful chapter in my career and life, that I will happily never forget."Harry and Meghan were married Saturday at St. George’s Chapel in front of around 600 guests, including celebrities ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Elton John, Victoria and David Beckham and George and Amal Clooney.In addition to George and Charlotte, the couple's wedding party included Brian and John Mulroney -- the 7-year-old twin sons of Meghan's close friend Jessica Mulroney, a Toronto-based entrepreneur and style adviser -- who held the train of Meghan’s dress as she walked up the steps of St. George’s Chapel.The fourth page boy was Harry's godson, Jasper Dyer, the son of his mentor and close friend, Capt. Mark Dyer.Rounding out the bridal party were Mulroney's 4-year-old daughter, Ivy; Markle's goddaughters Rylan, 7, and Remi, 6, the daughters of her Los Angeles friend Benita Litt; and 3-year-old Florence van Cutsem and 2-year-old Zalie Warren, who are both Harry's goddaughters.The wedding of Harry and Markle, a California native, was watched by more than 29 million people in the United States alone, according to Nielsen numbers.The couple, who will attend their first post-wedding engagement on Tuesday, also thanked the public for their support."The Duke and Duchess of Sussex would like to thank everyone who took part in the celebrations of their wedding on Saturday," a Kensington Palace spokesperson said in a statement. "They feel so lucky to have been able to share their day with all those gathered in Windsor and also all those who watched the wedding on television across the UK, Commonwealth, and around the world."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...