President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a joint news conference on Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago, responding to North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile.
“North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable,” Abe said, speaking through an interpreter. “North Korea must fully comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.” He pointed to Trump’s presence at the impromptu news conference as evidence of the new president’s commitment to the strength of the alliance.
Then Trump stepped forward to speak. “I just want everyone to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” he said. “Thank you.”
The statements were somewhat more measured than the words of South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-Ahn. “Our government, in tandem with the international community, is doing its best to ensure a corresponding response to punish the North,” he said earlier.
The missile was launched hours earlier over the Korean peninsula, flying some 300 miles into the Sea of Japan. It was unclear whether this was a test of a shorter-range missile, a successful flight of the mid-range Musadan missile, or a test of one or more stages of the intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea is attempting to develop.
North Korean weapons development programs, including its nuclear arsenal, have challenged successive American administrations, and now present an early test to the Trump administration.
Yale Changes the Name of Calhoun College Over Ties to Racism
Yale University announced Saturday that it would rename its residential college that bore the name of John C. Calhoun, a Yale graduate, U.S. vice president, white supremacist and advocate of slavery. The college will now be named after Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who graduated from the university in 1934 and left a teaching role to enlist in the Navy during World War II. The name change is a reversal of a decision made last spring, when Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, said he would not remove Calhoun’s name, because he thought it better to confront history, not to erase it. In that same spirit, Calhoun’s name will not be removed from the college, but will appear alongside Hopper’s, although the college will only be referred to by the latter. Hopper left her teaching job at Vassar and joined the Navy to help defeat Fascism, and she remained in service most of her life. But she is much better known for her work on early computers, developing code and language that allowed non-specialists to use them. The protest and petition over the college’s namesake began not long after a white supremacist in South Carolina shot and killed nine black worshipper at a church. The backlash led South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag that flew above the state capitol, as well as petitions for other colleges to remove names or images of historical figures who were pro-slavery or white supremacists.
A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the the Philippines late Friday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 100. The city of Surigao, in the country’s southern Mindanao region, was worst hit and the quake shut off power, destroyed homes, and took down a bridge. Since the initial quake, more than 100 aftershocks have been felt. The government set up evacuation centers, but they have struggled to accommodate everyone. More than a thousand people spent the night outside the provincial capitol building, and by morning emergency crews were passing out food and other supplies. Rescue workers are now going through the rubble of toppled buildings, pulling out some trapped survivors. Seismologists say the epicenter struck along the Philippine fault zone, which last moved in 1879.
Hundreds of Whales Die in New Zealand After They Beached Themselves
More than 650 pilot whales have beached themselves in the past two days along a stretch of New Zealand coastline called Farewell Spit, and about 330 have died so far. Dozens of volunteers from around the country worked to keep the whales cool, bucketing water on their bodies, and they managed to push about 100 back to the ocean. But early Saturday morning another pod of 240 swam onto the beach. The rescuers are waiting until the next high tide, which comes Sunday morning, until they can save this new pod. It’s not clear why whales beach themselves. Bite marks from a shark were found on at least one of the whales, so they may have driven themselves onto land looking for safety. Another possibility is that when one whale swims too far onto the coast it becomes confused and sends out a distress call. When other whales come to save it they also become beached. This area in New Zealand, on the South Island, has seen large pods of whales beach themselves before, but never this bad.
Impeachment is now effectively inevitable. Taylor’s testimony fleshed out the biggest open questions, including whether there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine (there was), what it involved (military aid), and what Trump wanted (investigations of the Biden family and the 2016 election.) Congress has now heard from career civil servants and from political appointees, all telling a similar story, and Taylor removed the last scintilla of doubt. With that, it’s all but impossible to imagine a scenario in which House Democrats don’t vote to impeach the president.
The senator is best positioned to pry the Republican Party from President Trump’s hands.
Donald Trump has never feared another elected Republican. Over the course of five years, he has bullied and insulted, mocked and complained about nearly every GOP officeholder past and present, including George W. Bush and Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeff Flake. He knew that the Republicans who dared to stand up to him couldn’t hurt him (Bob Corker), and that the Republicans who could have hurt him wouldn’t dare stand up to him (Paul Ryan).
All of which has led Trump to believe that there is no possible danger of the Republican Party being pried from his grasp. But Trump may at last need to rethink that calculus.
Mitt Romney’s attempt to excise Trump from his party started early. In March 2016, he became the only former Republican presidential nominee to take a public position against Trump’s candidacy. This act of resistance didn’t work, however, because while Romney had moral authority, he had no real power.
How a subreddit seemingly destined to devolve into chaos stays remarkably sane
“I cheated on my ex during our relationship and she found out shortly after we broke up,” a Reddit user posting from the burner account Khaleesiscorned wrote in the spring of 2016 in the subreddit r/relationships. “She’s blocked me on everything, but briefly unblocks me every Monday to send me Game of Thrones spoilers before I can watch. How do I get her to stop?”
The fullstory involves a number of details that are not particularly redeeming: The original poster actually cheated multiple times; some of his friends joined the ex in her cause because they no longer wanted to be associated with him and in fact actively disliked him; at no point did the poster acknowledge that this woman is obviously very funny! The post was eventually removed by the subreddit’s moderators as potentially fake, but not before a screenshot of it went viral on Twitter and dozens of outlets circulated the story with headlines like “Girl Gets Sweet, Fiery Revenge on Ex With ‘Game of Thrones’ Spoilers.”
One of the planet’s most dramatic extinctions was caused in part by ocean acidification, which has become a problem in our own era.
The worst day in the history of life on Earth, so far, happened almost exactly 66 million years ago, when an asteroid roughly the size of Manhattan slammed into the Yucatán Peninsula.
You may know the story. The asteroid—which arrived, probably, in June or July—immediately drilled a 20-mile hole into the planet’s surface, vaporizing bedrock and spewing it halfway to the moon. The planet shuddered with magnitude-12 earthquakes, loosing tsunamis across the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the ejected debris condensed in orbit and plunged back to Earth as searing spheres of molten glass, which torched the land and turned forests into firestorms. Other debris remained high in space, where it blocked the sun’s rays and began to chill the surface of the planet.
The short-term costs have been brutal, but the longer-term ones could be far more significant.
Today Donald Trump stood in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room before a portrait of George Washington, who 223 years ago warned of the danger of foreign entanglements, and declared the United States disentangled from the Middle East—a region America’s leaders have for decades considered vital to national security.
Yet ever since he announced the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria this month, giving way to a brutal Turkish military offensive against Kurdish forces there, Trump has witnessed the grave consequences of this disengagement. Just in the short term, recent days have brought the slaughter and mass displacement of Kurds, whom the United States relied on to cripple the Islamic State in Syria; the collective shudder of U.S. allies around the world at America’s rank betrayal of its battlefield partners; and the springing loose of at least 100 ISIS fighters from prisons operated by overwhelmed Kurdish-led militias.
A man-made blaze on a remote Utah mountainside could provide valuable insights into the behavior of the powerful wildfires growing more and more common out West.
Sometime later this month or in early November, if the weather cooperates, the U.S. Forest Service will fly a pair of fire-spitting helicopters over a remote mountain in southern Utah and set the forest ablaze.
While the helicopters are pelting burning liquid fuel at the treetops, dozens of firefighters will be providing support on the ground, using drip torches and flamethrowers to create a towering wall of flame that will stretch from the forest floor to the sky. As the heat builds and the blaze roars across spruce- and fir-stippled canopies, a small army of scientists will launch weather balloons and drones, drive radar- and LIDAR-equipped trucks around the perimeter, fly specialized research planes overhead, and gather data on fire-hardened GoPro cameras to analyze the inferno from start to finish.
Ambassador Taylor delivered a 15-page opening statement that detailed the “confusing and unusual arrangement” involving the nongovernment employee Rudy Giuliani’s “irregular” role in making aid to Ukraine conditioned on the promise to investigate the family of one of President Donald Trump’s political rivals, Joe Biden. Taylor testified that Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had ordered an Office of Management and Budget staff member to “hold security assistance to Ukraine,” even though the Defense Department had determined that the “assistance was effective and should be resumed.”
William Taylor is the latest in a procession of Trump-administration officials to cry foul on the president.
“Where’s the Whistleblower?” President Donald Trump asked in a tweet this morning. The answer that Trump surely doesn’t want to hear, however, is this: It’s not just one whistle-blower anymore.
The president now finds himself virtually surrounded by them, as one official after another treks to Capitol Hill to accuse Trump of putting his own political interests ahead of the nation’s. The clamor is powering the congressional impeachment investigation that Trump has failed to thwart, and that now threatens his presidency.
William Taylor, Trump’s own envoy to Ukraine, yesterday became the latest senior official to cry foul over wrongdoing at the highest levels of the president’s administration. In closed-door testimony to three congressional committees, the veteran diplomat detailed how a pressure campaign directed by the president sought to tie U.S. aid to Ukraine to the public announcement of a Ukrainian investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. It was the most damaging account yet of a quid pro quo that, despite denials from Trump and his lieutenants, fits the very definition of the term.
Although the Trump administration has denied that it was trying to extract a quid pro quo from Ukraine—investigations of both 2016 hacking and of the Biden family’s business there in exchange for military aid—Taylor’s opening statement shows that’s exactly what was happening.
In an astonishing 15-page prepared statement, Taylor laid out a detailed chronology, which fits closely with what is already known about the Ukraine scandal, but fills in valuable new details. Far from some disgruntled Obama-administration holdover, Taylor was dispatched to Kiev in June by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was fired, reportedly at Rudy Giuliani’s behest. Taylor learned that Giuliani was in effect running a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine. In mid-July, Taylor realized that security assistance to Ukraine was being held up, though not the reasons for the delay. Taylor also came to understand that aides to newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky felt that their country was at risk of being used as a pawn in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.