North Korea reportedly launches two more missiles

By Joyce Lee, Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo | Reuters

SEOUL – Japan’s Coast Guard said it detected suspected ballistic missile launches from North Korea on Saturday, while the South Korean military said North Korea had fired two projectiles into the sea off its east coast.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said North Korea had fired two missiles that appeared to be short-range missiles, similar to launches in recent weeks.

A series of launches by North Korea since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the inter-Korean border in June have complicated attempts to restart talks between U.S. and North Korean negotiators over the future of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The two leaders agreed to restart working-level negotiations in June, but since then the United States has so far been unsuccessful in attempts to get talks going.

U.S. envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun was in Seoul this week to discuss ways to get negotiations back on track.

“We are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea,” Biegun said on Wednesday.

But in recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly criticized U.S. and South Korean largely computer-simulated joint military drills, South Korea’s import of high-tech weapons such as F-35 stealth jets, and U.S. testing of its intermediate-range cruise missile as threatening and hindrances to dialog.

On Friday, North Korea’s top diplomat called U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “diehard toxin,” saying “We are ready for both dialog and standoff.”

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC) said North Korea fired the projectiles on Saturday morning from around Sondok, South Hamgyong Province. Sondok is the site of a North Korean military airfield.

Missiles launched by North Korea on Saturday did not land in Japanese territory or within its Exclusive Economic Zone, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Jury convicts Mexican national of voter fraud – with a twist

By Sharon Bernstein and Steve Gorman | Reuters

SACRAMENTO – An avowed Republican activist and supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, who was born in Mexico but lived in the United States illegally for more than 20 years, was found guilty on Friday of identity theft and five counts of alien voter fraud.

A federal court jury in Sacramento returned the guilty verdict against Gustavo Araujo Lerma, 64, after several hours of deliberation, capping a five-day trial in which defense lawyers presented letters of thanks from Trump and top Republican Party officials.

The case posed an ironic twist to Trump’s oft-repeated but unsubstantiated claim that millions of non-citizens fraudulently cast ballots against him in 2016, skewing the popular vote in favor of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, while he won in the Electoral College.

Lerma, who also was found guilty of passport fraud, faces up to 22 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 26, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California announcing the verdict.

According to evidence presented at trial, Lerma was born in Mexico in 1955 but in the early 1990s he fraudulently assumed the identity, including Social Security number, of a Puerto Rico-born U.S. citizen, Hiram Velez, who died in 1997.

Lerma later used his stolen identity to illegally obtain U.S. citizenship for his Mexican-born wife and two children, and to obtain U.S. passports. He fraudulently voted under his false ID in five federal elections in California, including the 2016 non-partisan primary and general elections for president.

Federal prosecutors made no assertions about who Lerma voted for in those races, but the defense acknowledged he was a registered Republican.

Defense attorneys contended their client was entitled to use the name Hiram Velez under California common law permitting a person to change his name at any time …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Council candidate advocates for racial purity in Michigan city

Associated Press

MARYSVILLE — A city council candidate in Michigan said Friday she has no plans to end her campaign after shocking a public forum when she said she wants to keep her community white “as much as possible.”

Jean Cramer made the comment Thursday in response to a question about diversity in Marysville, a city in St. Clair County, 55 miles (88 kilometers) northeast of Detroit. The Times Herald in Port Huron said she’s one of five candidates running for three council seats in November.

More than 90% of Marysville’s 9,700-person population is white.

During a follow-up interview Friday outside her Marysville home, Cramer doubled down on her statements. She said if there is a biracial marriage in their family, she could understand why her stance might upset her neighbors.

“Because those people don’t know the other side of it,” she said. “For whatever reason, I’ve heard, they love each other, whatever, but there’s also such a thing as remaining single. People don’t necessarily have to get married, and, if they love somebody, love them single. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Cramer, 67, contends the bible backs her beliefs and asserts she doesn’t believe she is a racist, despite the condemnation of her views.

“As far as I know, as long as we’ve been here, Marysville has been a white community, a white city,” she said. “If we have seen a black person here and there, whatever, we’re not bothered by it. I’m not bothered by it.”

Cramer made her comments about keep Marysville as white as possible Thursday after the moderator asked candidates if the city should do more to attract foreign-born residents.

“Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible,” she replied. “White. Seriously. In other words, no foreign-born, no foreign people.”

The Times-Herald later asked Cramer if she wanted to clarify her remarks.

“Husband and wife …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Presidential candidates take swipes at DNC leadership at party meeting in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — As more than a dozen presidential contenders pitched their candidacies at a Democratic National Committee meeting Friday, some of the hopefuls languishing in the polls used their time on the stage here to bash the party leadership and the primary process.

Speaking at a hotel ballroom filled with DNC members from around the country — and at a podium next to party chair Tom Perez — several candidates vented their frustration at the committee for its resistance to hold a climate change-focused debate, the broader debate qualification requirements, and the party’s reliance on corporate donations.

“I say it with love, but the DNC process is stifling debate at a time when we need it most,” said Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet. “If we wanted to be the party that excludes people, we would be Republicans.”

The requirements to qualify for the party’s debates were “rewarding celebrity candidates with millions of Twitter followers and billionaires who buy their way onto the debate stage” while forcing candidates to spend big money on Facebook ads to recruit donors, instead of building a strong campaign infrastructure, Bennet argued.

A few speakers later, Tom Steyer, a former San Francisco hedge fund chief and Democratic megadonor, argued that the party couldn’t be “chasing corporate money” at the same time it was fighting for voters’ support.

“As president, I would insist the DNC not take one single penny from any corporation,” he said to applause. “If we’re going to distinguish as Democrats who we are, we’re going to have to walk the walk.”

The criticism came unanimously from the candidates who’d failed to make it to next month’s debate. With less than a week left to qualify for the event — candidates need 130,000 individual donors and 2 percent support in at least four approved polls — the pressure is on …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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