By Andrea Shalal and David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea's latest rocket launch might kick off a buildup of U.S. missile defense systems in Asia, U.S. officials and missile defense experts said, something that could further strain U.S.-China ties and also hurt relations between Beijing and Seoul. North Korea says it put a satellite into orbit on Sunday, but the United States and its allies see the launch as cover for Pyongyang's development of ballistic missile technology that could be used to deliver a nuclear weapon. Washington sought to reassure its allies South Korea and Japan of its commitment to their defense after the launch, which followed a North Korean nuclear test on Jan. 6. The United States and South Korea said they would begin formal talks about deploying the sophisticated Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, to the Korean peninsula "at the earliest possible date." South Korea had been reluctant to publicly discuss the possibility due to worries about upsetting China, its biggest trading partner. Beijing, at odds with the United States over Washington's reaction to its building of artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, quickly expressed "deep concern" about a system whose radar could penetrate Chinese territory. China had made its position clear to Seoul and Washington, the Foreign Ministry said. "When pursuing its own security, one country should not impair others' security interests," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement. TIPPING POINT But the North Korean rocket launch, on top of last month's nuclear test, could be a "tipping point" for South Korea and win over parts of Seoul's political establishment that remain wary of such a move, a U.S. official said. South Korea and the United States said that if THAAD was deployed to South Korea, it would be focused only on North Korea. An editorial in the Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Chinese Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper, called that assurance "feeble". "It is widely believed by military experts that once THAAD is installed, Chinese missiles will be included as its target of surveillance, which will jeopardize Chinese national security," it said. Japan, long concerned about North Korea's ballistic missile program, has previously said it was considering THAAD to beef up its defenses. The North Korean rocket on Sunday flew over Japan's southern Okinawa prefecture. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Monday the Defense Ministry had no concrete plan to introduce THAAD, but added the ministry believed new military assets would strengthen the country's capabilities. Riki Ellison, founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said the launch would give Japan momentum to deploy THAAD. Washington moved one of its five THAAD systems to Guam in 2013 following North Korean threats, and is now studying the possibility of converting a Hawaii test site for a land-based version of the shipboard Aegis missile defense system into a combat-ready facility. EFFECTIVENESS QUESTIONED Some experts questioned how effective THAAD would be against the type of long-range rocket launched by North Korea and the Pentagon concedes it has yet to be tested against such a device. THAAD is designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or just outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight. It has so far proven effective against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. John Schilling, a contributor to the Washington-based 38 North project that monitors North Korea, said THAAD's advanced AN/TPY-2 tracking radar built by Raytheon Co could provide an early, precise track on any such missile. David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said that while THAAD could not shoot down the type of rocket launched on Sunday its deployment could reassure the South Korean public. "Much of what missile defense programs are about is reassuring allies and the public," he said. SUITABLE SITE IDENTIFIED One U.S. official said the North Korean launch added urgency to longstanding informal discussions about a possible THAAD deployment to South Korea. "Speed is the priority," said the official, who asked not to be named ahead of a formal decision. Renewed missile-defense discussions with the United States could also send a message to Beijing that it needs to do more to rein in North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, another U.S. official said. South Korean officials have already identified a suitable site for the system, but it could also be placed at a U.S. base on the Korean peninsula, Ellison said. THAAD is a system built by Lockheed Martin Corp that can be transported by air, sea or land. The Pentagon has ordered two more batteries from Lockheed. One of the four THAAD batteries based at Fort Bliss, Texas, is always ready for deployment overseas, and could be sent to Japan or South Korea within weeks, Ellison said. Lockheed referred all questions about a possible THAAD deployment to the U.S. military. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal, David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in Washington. Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Tim Kelly in Tokyo and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Dean Yates and Lincoln Feast)
The government will bring some "vulnerable" Australians home after its travel ban ends next week.
- The Week
Liz Cheney secretly orchestrated Jan. 3 letter from 10 defense secretaries warning about Trump, friend says
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is almost certainly going to be ousted as No. 3 House Republican next week, even though she voted with former President Donald Trump more often (93 percent) than her likely replacement, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — as Stefanik's conservative critics point out. While Stefanik has morphed from Trump skeptic to enthusiastic booster, Cheney has transformed from one of those "hold-their-noses-and-deal-with-him" establishment Republicans into, finally, Sen. John McCain's political "heir," Susan B. Glasser writes in The New Yorker. After Trump tried to co-opt "the Big Lie" this week to refer to his false claims that he won the 2020 election, Cheney shot back that "the 2020 presidential election was not stolen," and "anyone who claims it was is spreading the big lie." Predictably, House Republicans turned against Cheney and sided with Trump, who "has learned the lesson of previous demagogues: the bigger and more flagrant the untruth, the better to prove the fealty of his party," Glasser writes. "It's all got to do with fealty to Trump and the Big Lie and the fact that Liz is a living reproach to all these cowards," Eric Edelman, a friend of Cheney's, told The New Yorker. Glasser continues: Cheney's rupture with the House Republican Conference has become all but final in recent days, but it has been months in the making. Edelman revealed that Cheney herself secretly orchestrated an unprecedented op-ed in The Washington Post by all 10 living former defense secretaries, including her father, warning against Trump's efforts to politicize the military. The congresswoman not only recruited her father but personally asked others, including Trump's first Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, to participate. ... The Post op-ed appeared on Jan. 3, just three days before the insurrection at the Capitol. [Susan Glasser, The New Yorker] More quietly, Cheney and her husband circulated a 21-page memo among House Republicans on Jan. 3, debunking Trump's false election fraud claims and warning her colleagues about the "dangerous precedent" of voting to overturn the election, Glasser reports. Not even Cheney allies expect her to win this last stand, but "if Trump does manage to reinvent 'the Big Lie' in service of his own corrupt ends, Cheney will at least have forced members of her party into admitting, on the record, that they are making a choice between truth and Trump's untruth — and choosing the latter." Read the entire article at The New Yorker. More stories from theweek.comHouse GOP leader Kevin McCarthy apparently pays $1,500 to live in a 12-bedroom, 16-bath penthouseThe insurrectionists are winningTrump likes Elise Stefanik, but it appears his base still needs to come around
- Business Insider
Melinda Gates was upset and uncomfortable after she and Bill Gates met with Jeffrey Epstein, The Daily Beast reports
Sources told The Daily Beast that Bill Gates' relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein "still haunts" Melinda.
- The Daily Beast
Fox NewsIn what has become a commonplace occurrence these days, Fox News host Tucker Carlson addressed a controversy purely of his own making on Thursday night, this time regarding his dangerous and sloppy suggestion that dozens of Americans a day are dying from the coronavirus vaccines.How did he explain away the highly misleading and disingenuous speculation? Well, by blaming it all on President Joe Biden, of course.Carlson, who has increasingly sought to cast doubt on the efficacy and safety of the highly effective vaccines, took his vaccine skepticism to new heights on Wednesday night when he cited a faulty open-sourced database dubbed a “a breeding ground for misinformation” to suggest that thousands of Americans have died from the shots.“Between late December of 2020 and last month, a total of 3,362 people apparently died after getting the COVID vaccine in the United States,” Carlson exclaimed, citing the Center for Disease Control’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. “That is an average of roughly 30 people every day. So, what does that add up to? By the way, that reporting period ended on April 23, and we don’t have numbers past that.”While acknowledging that there’s been criticism of the VAERS database’s numbers and insisting he believes “vaccines aren’t dangerous,” Carlson still spent 15 minutes speculating that the federally authorized COVID-19 vaccines are leading to an untold number of deaths.“The actual number is almost certainly higher than [30 people every day], perhaps vastly higher than that,” he said at one point.Of course, Carlson never once noted that the CDC itself had analyzed the reports of deaths submitted to VAERS—which is nothing more than open-access data—and offered the following conclusion: “A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.”Following a 24-hour period in which he was roundly criticized and fact-checked—including from his own Fox colleagues—Carlson issued his rebuttal. And he wanted his critics to know he was “just asking questions.” Oh, and it’s also Biden’s fault.“We looked up the numbers the Biden administration has gathered on vaccine safety. Then last night, we boldly read those numbers on television—the Biden numbers,” Carlson began with a mocking tone.“As we did that, we noted the administration’s reporting system for injuries—it’s called VAERS—has been credibly accused of being inaccurate,” he added. “We also noted that very same system has been used for a long time.”Once again insisting that “more deaths have been connected to the new COVID vaccines over the past four months than all previous vaccines combined” in recent years—again, something the CDC has thoroughly knocked down—Carlson claimed he was just seeking answers.“Very same system, very different results,” he said, adding: “How does this happen? So what is that explanation? We still don’t know. Instead of answering that simple and important question, the usual chorus of partisans started screaming and calling for censorship!”After mocking his critics for telling him the VAERS numbers are untrustworthy, he wanted to know why “hasn’t the Biden administration fixed its reporting system” and “what are the real numbers.”Carlson, meanwhile, ended the segment by flipping the indignation over his reckless speculation back onto his critics, insisting they are actually the ones who are doing harm to the public.“It’s fair to ask how much harm this medicine causes. No one has told us,” he declared. “Their position is, you don’t need to know the rate of injury! That doesn’t matter. Anyone who asks about harm is immoral. That’s what they’re arguing. If you ever find yourself arguing that, you will know for certain you have lost the thread. You are no longer arguing for public health. You’re doing something else entirely.”Carlson, of course, could just read the disclaimers when searching the database to realize that it’s not a typical government data source and the numbers don’t reflect direct causation.“Reports may include incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental and unverified information,” one disclaimer reads, while another warns: “The number of reports alone cannot be interpreted or used to reach conclusions about the existence, severity, frequency, or rates of problems associated with vaccines.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Business Insider
Democrats renew calls to end the filibuster after McConnell said he's '100%' focused on stopping Biden
"Anyone expecting a return to some bygone era of bipartisanship isn't acknowledging the reality that we are in," Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla said.
- The Week
Dr. Rajendra Kapila, an infectious disease expert and professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, died of COVID-19 last month while in India. Kapila, 81, died on April 28, three weeks after testing positive for COVID-19, ABC News reports. India is the world's biggest COVID-19 hotspot, and Kapila went to the country to help care for relatives, his ex-wife, Dr. Bina Kapila, told WABC. She said he only planned on staying in India for a short period of time. In a statement, Rutgers called Kapila a "genuine giant in the field of infectious diseases" who was "recognized worldwide and sought out for his legendary knowledge and extraordinary clinical acumen in diagnosing and treating the most complex infectious diseases." Kapila founded Rutgers' Division of Infectious Diseases, was a founding member of the New Jersey Infectious Disease Society, and "provided care to tens of thousands of patients and trained numerous generations of medical students, residents, and fellows," Rutgers said. His wife, Dr. Deepti Saxena-Kapila, said her husband was fully vaccinated before traveling to India; while it is extremely rare for a vaccinated person to die of COVID-19, most who have died had underlying health conditions and were older, ABC News reports. Kapila's ex-wife told WABC he had heart issues and diabetes. More stories from theweek.comHouse GOP leader Kevin McCarthy apparently pays $1,500 to live in a 12-bedroom, 16-bath penthouseThe insurrectionists are winningTrump likes Elise Stefanik, but it appears his base still needs to come around
- The Independent
‘It is ironic that we came to India for two weeks and he contracted it here,’ Dr Rajendra Kapila’s widow says
To honor the second birthday of their son Archie, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have come up with an extra special way for their supporters across the globe to show their love by supporting a good cause. “We have been deeply touched over the past two years to feel the warmth and support for our family in honor of Archie’s birthday,” Meghan, 39, and Harry, 36, wrote Thursday on their Archewell Foundation website.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday the process of removing all contractors from Afghanistan working with the United States was under way as part of President Joe Biden's withdrawal of forces from the country. The remarks are the clearest indication yet that Biden's April order to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 extended to U.S.-funded contractors. Asked whether the Pentagon had issued orders to withdraw not just American troops but also contractors, Austin said: "We're going to responsibly retrograde all of our capabilities that we are responsible for and the contractors fall in that realm as well."
- National Review
Republican candidate for California governor Caitlyn Jenner voiced support for a U.S.-Mexico border wall in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday. “I am all for the wall,” Jenner said. “I would secure the wall. We can’t have a state — we can’t have a country without a secure wall.” Jenner also pledged to work to revoke California’s law that bars local law enforcement agencies from working with federal immigration enforcement, except in the case of illegal immigrants convicted of certain felonies. “It’s not going to be easy, but I will do my absolute best. I am for securing this state,” Jenner told Hannity. “I am pro-law enforcement. I am pro-border protection. OK? ICE, [I’m] pro-ICE. We need these people, and they do a wonderful job.” However, Jenner also appeared to back leniency for illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. “You have two questions here,” Jenner said. “One is stopping people from coming in illegally into the state. And then the second question is, what do we do with the people that are here? We are a compassionate country, okay? We are a compassionate state.” Jenner entered the gubernatorial race last month amid a recall effort for current Governor Gavin Newsom. The recall gathered steam from Republicans frustrated with Newsom as well as other state residents concerned over pandemic-related policies, particularly school closures. Jenner, a reality TV star and former Olympic athlete who transitioned from a man to a woman in 2017, also addressed some transgender issues in her interview with Hannity. Jenner reiterated her position that biological males should not compete in girls’ sports teams, but then added, “Why do they keep asking me that question? … There’s more problems here in the state of California than that.”
DeGeneres shut down speculation that she was living with the "Friends" star because of "marital troubles."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday there was no plan at this point to shoot down the remnants of a large Chinese rocket expected to plunge back through the atmosphere this weekend. The Long March 5B rocket blasted off from China's Hainan island on April 29, carrying the Tianhe module, which contains what will become living quarters for three crew members on a permanent Chinese space station. The Global Times, a Chinese tabloid published by the official People's Daily, characterized reports that the rocket is "out of control" and could cause damage as "Western hype."
LONDON (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the West had to be very careful about the exact nature of Chinese investment in Western economies and think very carefully about investments in strategic assets. China's spectacular economic and military rise over the past 40 years is among the most significant geopolitical events of recent history, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union that ended the Cold War. The West has struggled to come up with an agreed policy on China and has flipflopped over the years from seeing China as a lucrative source of investment - for example in U.S. government bonds - to seeing China as a threat to global stability and avoiding its 5G technology.
- Business Insider
Mitch McConnell's alma mater rejects his views on the 1619 Project and says they are 'quite troubling'
"To imply that slavery is not an important part" of US history "fails to provide a true representation of the facts," a university official said.
- Associated Press
Rep. Elise Stefanik stated her case Thursday for replacing Rep. Liz Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican leader, implicitly lambasting Cheney's battles with former President Donald Trump by saying, “We are one team and that means working with the president." The remarks by Stefanik, R-N.Y., a one-time moderate who's evolved into an ardent Trump champion, came as Cheney seems likely to be tossed from her leadership post next week. Cheney, R-Wyo., has repeatedly rejected Trump's false insistence that he lost the 2020 election because of widespread fraud, and has blamed him for inflaming followers who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Wednesday he's "100%" focused on "stopping" the Biden administration.Why it matters: McConnell's comments come as President Biden seeks to push through his administration's nearly $4 trillion infrastructure plan. Biden is due to host his first bipartisan meeting with Republican leaders including McConnell next week.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.Driving the news: McConnell made the comments when asked about Republican Party infighting and a campaign from allies of former President Trump to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House GOP conference chair."We're confronted with severe challenges from a new administration, and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that's 100 percent of my focus," McConnell said.McConnell, who urged fellow Republicans not to contest Biden's election win, was also asked if he's concerned about the substantial number of GOP voters who disbelieve the presidential election results."100% of my focus is on standing up to this administration," he replied. "What we have in the United States Senate is totally unity from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country."The other side: Biden shrugged off McConnell's comments later Wednesday, saying the Republican congressional leader had made similar comments during the Obama administration."And I was able to get a lot done with him," Biden told reporters.More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
- Associated Press
Under order by the Supreme Court, India's government on Thursday agreed to provide more medical oxygen to hospitals in the capital city of New Delhi, potentially easing a 2-week-old shortage that worsened the country's exploding coronavirus crisis. Government officials also denied reports that they have been slow in distributing life-saving medical supplies donated from abroad. The government raised the oxygen supply to 730 tons from 490 tons per day in New Delhi as ordered by the Supreme Court.
MALE (Reuters) -The speaker of parliament in Maldives, former President Mohamed Nasheed, was being treated for shrapnel wounds and in stable condition after a blast outside his family home on Thursday, a spokesman for his governing Maldivian Democratic Party said. Two close family members, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation, told Reuters Nasheed was talking and responsive before being treated under anaesthesia at the hospital. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a close ally of Nasheed, said an investigation into the explosion was under way.
- The Independent
‘I’m a vet ... f*** you all!’: Capitol riot suspect screams at judge and disconnects call during wild hearing, report says
Attempts to mute defendant were unsuccessful and he may face competency hearing and detention
The Amazon.com founder will launch people into space on his New Shepard vehicle on 20 July.