North Korea fired four missiles Monday morning from a launch site in the country’s northwest where it has previously claimed to test technology that’s capable of delivering intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) with the ability to reach the U.S. It’s not certain if any of the projectiles fired Monday were ICBM’s, and there are differing accounts of what type of missiles North Korea fired, but in February last year North Korea launched a rocket from the same site, Tongchang-ri, that put a satellite into orbit with the aim of furthering technology that would allow the country to use an ICBM. The launch prompted a meeting of South Korea’s national security council, which indicates it could be more a short-range missile test, something that North Korea has done more frequently in recent years, and with more success. The missiles flew more than 600 miles and fell into the Sea of Japan, a frequent area of target. The launch came as the U.S. and South Korea performed annual joint military exercises, which North Korea has called pretext to invasion. It is common for Pyongyang to make such displays as these exercises happen, but these come at a time when, just this January, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said the country was entering “the final stage of preparation for the test launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.” The United Nations Security Council has outlawed these tests, because they would allow North Korea to develop technology capable of delivering a nuclear-armed device.
—French presidential candidate Francois Fillon held a rally and promised he’d be cleared of corruption allegations against him, an effort to show leaders in his Conservative party he still has support.
—Mexico opened legal aid centers at consulates in 50 U.S. cities amid heightened worries of deportation brought by the Trump administration.
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
North Korea Fires Four Missiles From Its Long-Range Launch Site
Israel Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana Use
The Israeli government voted on Sunday to adopt a policy that will decriminalize recreational marijuana use, and replaces it with fines for public smoking. The new policy, which must still be ratified by parliament, will only seek criminal prosecution against someone caught smoking publicly more than four times. The fines would begin at $270. "On the one hand we are opening ourselves up to the future,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “On the other hand, we understand the dangers and will try to balance the two." Israel has been fairly progressive when it comes to marijuana laws. It already allows medicinal use for those with a license, and has become a worldwide leader in marijuana research. Israeli police have widely overlooked marijuana use, and in 2015, in a country of more than 8.5 million, fewer than 200 people were arrested for using marijuana. Growing and selling will remain illegal. The money for the fines will go toward programs that educate people on the drugs potentially harmful effects.
The White House Asks For an Investigation Into Trump's Wiretapping Tweet
The White House on Sunday asked that Congress investigate whether or not former-President Barack Obama ordered wiretaps on the Trump campaign, an accusation that President Donald Trump tweeted the day before without offering any evidence to back such claims. The White House statement asked that these “reports concerning potentially politically motivated” wiretaps be investigated, although the statement did not point out which reports it was referring to, or if this was only based on Trump’s tweet. The statement then said that “neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.” My colleague Yoni Appelbaum wrote in more length on the vague statement, which seems, if anything, to indicate that Trump’s accusation “has no imminent path to resolution.” Below is a copy of the full statement, tweeted by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.
President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.
Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.
French Presidential Candidate Fillon Holds a Rally to Show He Has Support Despite the Corruption Investigation
French presidential candidate Francois Fillon held a rally Sunday and announced to his supporters that he was confident he’d be cleared of the corruption allegations against him. The rally was a seen as an effort to prove to top leaders in his conservative Republican Party that he is still popular, despite allegations that he appointed his wife as a parliamentary assistant and paid her about $1 million for work she never did. These allegations have now become the subject of an impending criminal investigation, and it has badly hurt Fillon’s chances at winning the election, or even making it beyond the election run-off in May. Fillon was seen as the closest contender to far-right leader Marine Le Pen, but after the investigative paper Le Canard Enchainé published a series of investigations into his wife’s work the latest opinion polls put him below Le Pen, as well as the liberal candidate, Emmanuel Macron. This has led to a flight of senior political allies from his campaign, and a push in the Republican Party to have Fillon quit the race.
Mexico Opens Legal Aid Centers in Its 50 U.S. Consulates
Mexico has opened legal aid centers inside its consulates in 50 U.S. cities to help citizens amid heightened concerns of mass deportation brought by the Trump administration, Mexico’s foreign minister said. "We are not promoting illegality," Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Saturday during an event at the New York Mexican consulate, according to a video acquired later by Reuters. Last month Trump signed an executive order that vastly increases those undocumented immigrants considered a deportation priority. Former President Barack Obama had organized three tiers of deportation, with violent felons and national security threats at the top, and those who’d been ordered to leave before 2014 but who’d committed no crimes at the bottom. Trump’s order largely wiped out those categories, opening up the possibility of deportation for nearly all of America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. Most recently, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has been conducting deportation raids that picked up people previously that most likely would have been considered protected by Obama’s prioritization. "Today we are facing a situation that can paradoxically represent an opportunity, when suddenly a government wants to apply the law more severely," Videgaray said.