Trump receives new letter from Kim, sends his reply

The White House said Thursday that President Donald Trump received a new letter from the North Korean leader and responded quickly with a letter of his own. The correspondence, following up on their Singapore summit, came amid fresh concerns over Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearization.

President Trump early Thursday tweeted his thanks to the North Korean leader “for your nice letter—I look forward to seeing you soon!”

The White House did not provide details on the specific content of the letter from Kim, received Wednesday, or of President Trump’s reply. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the letters addressed their commitment to work toward North Korea’s “complete denuclearization.”

Sanders said no second meeting is “locked in” as a follow-up to the Singapore summit in June, but they remain open to discussions.

President Trump in his tweet expressed gratitude to Kim “for keeping your word” on the return of the remains of more than 50 American service members killed during the Korean War. Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. military leaders received the remains in Hawaii during a somber ceremony on Wednesday.

The latest letter from Kim arrived on the heels of concerns over North Kore’s ballistic missile program and commitment to denuclearization. Senior Trump administration officials have urged patience, cautioning that the process of denuclearizing North Korea and removing the threat of its long-range missiles will take time.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was headed to an Asian security meeting in Singapore, where a meeting this weekend with North Korea’s foreign minister was possible.

Presdient Trump has sought to show progress from his June 12 summit with Kim. He said during a Tuesday rally in Tampa, Florida, that the U.S. was “doing well” with North Korea and noted the return of detained Americans and Pyongyang’’ ceasing of nuclear testing and missile tests. “A lot of good things are happening. No tests. No rockets flying. But we’ll see what happens,” Presdient Trump said.

U.S. officials have been closely watching North Korea’s willingness to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

President Trump issues all-caps threat to Iranian president via Twitter

Earlier in the day President Donald Trump issued an all-caps threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its president via Twitter after the country’s president said that pursuing hostilities against his country would lead to “the mother of all wars.”

Trump tweeted, “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

These comments came at the same time as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was speaking at a Reagan Forum in Simi Valley, California, on the topic of Iran.

Pompeo lambasted the country for perceived corruption and human rights abuses, while also offering direct talks with the Iranian regime.

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, issued his threat to the United States at a gathering of diplomats, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

“Mr. Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” the IRNA reported. “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

The United States is “undertaking a diplomatic and financial pressure campaign to cut off the funds that the regime uses to enrich itself and support death and destruction,” Pompeo stated.

Despite mixed messages from senior State Department officials in recent weeks, Pompeo made clear that this pressure campaign includes dropping Iranian oil imports to “as close to zero as possible by Nov. 4” when sanctions against Iran snap back into place.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Doctors report likely Ebola case one year later

Photo by the CDC

A Liberian woman who probably caught Ebola in 2014 may have infected three relatives a year after she first fell sick, doctors reported in a study published Monday.

There have been previous instances of men spreading Ebola to women via sexual transmission—the virus can survive in semen for more than a year—but the new case is the first time scientists have suggested that Ebola was spread from a woman after such a prolonged period.

The rare possibility of Ebola spreading long after infection highlights the importance of monitoring survivors, especially with the imminent end of the most recent flare-up of the disease in Congo. That country’s latest outbreak, announced in May, has so far recorded 38 confirmed cases, including 14 deaths. It is due to be declared contained on Wednesday, which will mark 42 days, or two incubation periods, since the last case was recorded.

“The Ebola virus hides in places where it can escape the antibodies from a body’s immune system, so there is a need for vigilance,” said Dr. David Heymann, a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not linked to the new research.

The unusual cluster of cases in Liberia was identified after the woman’s 15-year-old son was diagnosed with Ebola in November 2015. Scientists then tested the rest of his family: the woman, her husband and their three younger sons.

The 15-year-old died a few days later. The father and an 8-year-old boy were positive for Ebola, but both recovered. The couple’s 5-year-old son wasn’t infected.

Doctors found Ebola antibodies in the mother, her breast milk and her 2-month-old baby, suggesting a previous infection and the possibility she passed on protection to her infant son through breastfeeding.

Researchers reported genetic similarities between the viruses taken from the father, the two boys and the strain circulating during the 2014-15 outbreak across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, which ultimately killed more than 11,000 people in the biggest Ebola epidemic in history.

Scientists discovered the woman had cared for her brother in July 2014, who died after suffering Ebola-like symptoms but before being tested for the disease. The woman later experienced a similar illness, but never sought care.

Several weeks after giving birth to a baby in September 2015, the woman developed problems including fatigue and breathing difficulties. Doctors say that because pregnancy lowers the body’s immune defenses, that may have allowed for the Ebola virus to re-emerge.

“The suspicious illness she had following delivery may have been a re-activation of Ebola, but we have no confirmatory tests,” said Dr. Emily Kainne Dokubo, who led the Ebola response in Liberia for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the study’s lead author.

Dokubo said it was possible the woman infected her husband and two older sons with Ebola when they took care of her—the disease is normally spread through contact with an infected patient’s blood or other bodily fluids. The case report was published online Monday.

“There isn’t complete evidence to reconstruct what happened, but this is the most likely scenario,” said Lorenzo Subissi, an epidemiologist at Sciensano, a Belgian research institute, who was not part of the study.

Dokubo said such cases of Ebola re-emergence are exceptional, with only two reported instances: a Scottish nurse who developed meningitis caused by Ebola hidden in her brain and an American physician who had lingering virus in his eye. In those two cases, the virus did not spread any further.

“We don’t want there to be a sense of complacency with people thinking that just because the outbreak is over, there’s nothing more to be done,” Dokubo said. “There is a risk of viral persistence and people should seek care immediately so that we can pick up any suspicious cases right away and stop a larger outbreak.”

From the Associated Press.

Backlash leads to Trump’s correction

Photo by the Kremlin

After the 2018 Russia-United States Summit, deemed by many Americans and Europeans as a disaster took place on Monday in Finland, Trump sought to “clarify” his public undermining of America’s intelligence agencies when he said he saw no reason to believe Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia” instead of “why it would,” Trump said.

His comment came amid great rebuke by his own party approximately 27 hours after his original, widely reported statement, which he made at the summit in Helsinki, standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also handed him a football in reference to the U.S. co-hosting the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said Tuesday. “It could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all,” he continued.

The “disaster control team’s cleanup” of this event was only the latest of Trump’s problematic statements during his week-long trip, in which he sent the NATO alliance into emergency session and assailed British Prime Minister Theresa May as she was hosting him for an official visit.

Moments earlier, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell issued a public reassurance to U.S. allies in NATO and Europe with whom Trump clashed during his trip last week.

“The European countries are our friends, and the Russians are not,” McConnell said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Immigration into Europe has ‘changed the fabric’ of the continent, Trump says

Photo by the White House

President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized the European Union’s immigration policy, claiming it has “changed the fabric” of the continent in a negative manner.

“I think what has happened to Europe is a shame,” Trump declared. “Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame,” he added during an interview with the Sun.

“I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago.”

“I have a great love for the countries of Europe,” he continued while pointing toward his Scottish and German ancestry, noting that immigration into Europe has taken a toll on the people and their cultures.

“I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.”

— President Donald Trump

Trump’s presidential administration has taken a conservative approach on immigration, fighting against sanctuary cities and enforcing existing immigration laws to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump told the newspaper that most British people actually support his stance on immigration. “I think they like me in the U.K.,” he said. “I think they agree with me on immigration.”

 

President Trump scolds NATO members

Photo by Gage Skidmore

On Wednesday President Donald Trump scolded members of NATO for not spending enough on national defense, asking them to increase spending from two to four percent of their gross domestic product.

In a closed-door meeting with leaders at the North Atlantic Council, Trump doubled down on his demands out of displeasure for the U.S. spending money to support allies in Europe.

“During the President’s remarks today at the NATO summit he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2% of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4%,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

“The President raised this same issue when he was at NATO last year,” she added.

“President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”

From the start of the NATO summit, Trump focused on increasing allied defense spending. The President made it clear he’s grown tired of the United States spending more on defense than its allies in NATO.

In 2014, NATO countries committed to spending 2 percent of their annual gross domestic product on defense, with the goal of reaching that number by 2024.

The United States, which spent $685.9 billion on defense in 2017, currently makes up 51.1 percent of NATO’s combined GDP. This year, only eight NATO countries are on track to spend more than two percent.

North Korea accuses U.S. of ‘gangster like’ demands

Photo by the White House

Kim Jong-un, after talks, appears to have thumped away hopes for a quick denuclearization deal in a sudden rebuke to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing the United States of making “gangster-like” demands.

Pompeo recently wrapped up two days of discussions in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Saturday July 7, holding optimism without meeting North Korea’s Supreme Leader, as he has done previously twice. He said the discussions had been productive and conducted in good faith while noting much work is yet ahead. Pompeo and two other U.S. officials said the two countries, still technically at war for 68 years, had formulated groups pertaining to the details of an arrangement.

In a statement broadcasted by North Korea’s Central News Agency pertaining to Pompeo’s visit, the Foreign Ministry of North Korea said the outcome of Pompeo’s discussions with senior official Kim Yong-chol were “very concerning”.

“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” North Korea’s statement read. “However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting (between the countries) was no doubt regrettable. Our expectations and hopes were so naive it could be called foolish.”

It said North Korea had raised the issue of formally ending the Korean War, which concluded with an armistice and not a peace treaty, but the United States came up with a variety of “conditions and excuses” to delay this declaration. North Korea’s statement downplayed the significance of the United States suspending its military exercises with South Korea, something boasted by President Trump after the summit as a success.

Criticizing the discussions with Pompeo, however, it carefully avoided attacking Trump personally, stating “we wholly maintain our trust toward President Trump,” but stressed that the District of Columbia must not allow “headwinds” against the “wills of the leaders.” That appeared to be a reference to Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, a man denigrated by Pyongyang in the past. Pompeo spoke with Trump, Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly on Saturday before his second round of meetings with Kim Yong-chol.

The Hermit Kingdom’s statement, coming almost immediately after Pompeo’s trip, was sure to fuel growing skepticism in the U.S. over how serious the Kim regime is about giving up its nuclear arsenal.

On North Korea discussions just concluded, Pompeo remarked: “We raised a full range of issues with them, all the issues that are important to both the United States and Japan.”

Closing, Pompeo said more talks would be needed.