By Ju-min Park and Sohee Kim SEOUL (Reuters) - Aides to the leaders of North and South Korea held talks at the Panmunjom truce village straddling their border on Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday, raising hopes for an end to a standoff that put the rivals on the brink of armed conflict. The meeting at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) village, known for its sky-blue huts and grim-faced soldiers, began soon after the deadline for North Korea's previously set ultimatum demanding that the South halt its loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border or face military action. That deadline passed without any reported incidents. The envoys held discussions on how to resolve recent tensions and improve ties, the South Korean presidential office said in a brief statement. The talks which began late on Saturday broke before dawn on Sunday and the envoys will resume discussions later in the day, it said. An exchange of artillery fire on Thursday prompted calls for calm from the United Nations, the United States and the North's lone major ally, China. South Korea's military remained on high alert despite the announced talks, a defense official said. South Korean President Park Geun-hye's national security adviser and her unification minister met with Hwang Pyong So, the top military aide to the North's leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yang Gon, a veteran official in inter-Korean affairs. "The South and the North agreed to hold contact related to the ongoing situation in South-North relations," Kim Kyou-hyun, the presidential Blue House's deputy national security adviser, said earlier in a televised briefing. Pyongyang made an initial proposal on Friday for a meeting, and Seoul made a revised proposal on Saturday seeking Hwang's attendance, Kim said. The North's KCNA news agency also announced the meeting, referring to the South as the Republic of Korea, a rare formal recognition of its rival state, in sharp contrast to the bellicose rhetoric in recent days. "They need to come up with some sort of an agreement where both sides have saved face. That would be the trick," said James Kim, a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. "North Korea will probably demand that the broadcasts be cut, and they may even come to an impasse on that issue." BRINK OF WAR? North Korea, technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, declared a "quasi-state of war" in front-line areas and on Thursday set the deadline for Seoul to halt its broadcasts. South Korea began blasting anti-North propaganda, news reports and even entertainment over the DMZ on Aug. 10, days after landmine explosions in the DMZ wounded two South Korean soldiers. Pyongyang denies it planted the mines. Seoul said it would continue the broadcasts unless the North accepted responsibility for the blasts. "The situation on the Korean peninsula is now inching close to the brink of a war due to the reckless provocations made by the south Korean military war hawks," the North's KCNA news agency said earlier. South Korean Vice Defense Minister Baek Seung-joo said on Friday Seoul expected North Korea to fire at some of the 11 sites where it has set up loudspeakers. The United States, which has 28,500 soldiers based in South Korea, said on Friday it had resumed its annual joint military exercises there after a temporary halt to coordinate with Seoul over the shelling from North Korea. The drills, code-named Ulchi Freedom Guardian, began on Monday and run until next Friday. North Korea regularly condemns the maneuvers as a preparation for war. Four South Korean and four U.S. fighter jets flew in a joint sortie over the South on Saturday, a South Korean official said, as thousands of South Korean villagers living near the border were evacuated into shelters. FAMILIAR FACES Pyongyang's two negotiators had made an unexpected visit to the South last October to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, where they met Kim Kwan-jin, Park's national security adviser, who led the South's delegation on Saturday. North and South Korea have often exchanged threats over the years, and dozens of soldiers have been killed in clashes, yet the two sides have always pulled back from a return to all-out war. Analysts had expected the current crisis eventually to wind down. "The fact that these powerful officials who represent South and North Korea's leaders are meeting means this is a great time to turn the crisis into opportunity," Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. "It is a breakthrough." North-South ties have been virtually frozen since the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship. Pyongyang denies any involvement. North Korea resumed its own broadcasts on Monday. On Thursday, it launched four shells into South Korea. The South fired 29 artillery rounds back. Neither side reported casualties or damage. North Korea has been hit with UN and U.S. sanctions because of nuclear and missile tests, moves that Pyongyang sees as an attack on its sovereign right to defend itself. (Additional reporting by James Pearson and Jack Kim in Seoul and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Nick Macfie and Robin Pomeroy)
- The Independent
Republicans cite ‘public health emergency’ for skipping Covid relief votes while speaking at maskless CPAC
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- The Independent
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- The Independent
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- The Independent
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- USA TODAY
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- The Telegraph
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- Business Insider
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- USA TODAY
Nearly two dozen Republicans attending CPAC in Florida have designated a proxy to vote on their behalf, citing the "ongoing public health emergency."
- USA TODAY
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- Business Insider
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- Business Insider
Go back to the place you got your first shot if you lose your paper card, and make sure to take a photo of the vaccine card after your first dose.
- The Guardian
Artist Tommy Zegan reveals figure was constructed in country the former president has assailed and demonized Sculptor Tommy Zegan polishes his statue of Donald Trump at CPAC. Photograph: John Raoux/AP A golden statue of Donald Trump that has caused a stir at the annual US gathering of conservatives was made in Mexico – a country the former president frequently demonized. The statue is larger than life, with a golden head and Trump’s trademark suit jacket with white shirt and red tie. Video and pictures of the tribute being wheeled through the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, went viral on Friday. The conference is seen as a vital gathering of the Republican right, and this year has become a symbol of Trump’s continued grip on the party, despite being cast out of office after two impeachments, seemingly endless parades of scandals and a botched response to the coronavirus pandemic that has cost half a million lives in the US. Now the artist behind the huge statue of Trump – Tommy Zegan – has revealed that the object was made in Mexico; a country that has been the target of much Trump racist abuse over his political career, and somewhere he has literally sought to build a wall against. “It was made in Mexico,” Zegan told Politico’s Playbook newsletter. Zegan, who lives in Mexico on a permanent resident visa, described the transport of the monument to CPAC in full to Playbook. Politico reported: “Zegan spent over six months crafting the 200lb fiberglass statue with the help of three men in Rosarito. He transported it to Tampa, Florida, where it was painted in chrome, then hauled it from there to CPAC.”
- The State
“Her daddy got to heaven just before she did.”
- Associated Press
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- Business Insider
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- National Review
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Friday urged the New York State legislature to open an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo brought by his former staffer, Lindsey Boylan. The progressive congresswoman told reporters that survivors “deserve to be heard” and noted that the “process for hearing this allegation falls squarely in the state legislature.” Meanwhile, New York attorney general Letitia James is reportedly reviewing a letter from state Republicans who have also called for an investigation into the allegations against the governor, according to Fox News. Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to Cuomo, on Wednesday published an essay detailing alleged sexual harassment she endured while working for the governor, including unwanted kissing and touching. She wrote in the essay that Cuomo, with the help of top female aides, “created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.” She also detailed an increasingly uncomfortable relationship she developed with the governor, in which he sought her out and set up one-on-one meetings with her. Boylan recounted a flight she shared with the governor from an event in October 2017 in which Cuomo allegedly said, “Let’s play strip poker.” On another occasion, Boylan says the pair met one-on-one for a briefing when Cuomo allegedly kissed her. “We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue,” she writes. “As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.” Boylan later resigned on September 26, 2018.