Tillerson Threatens N. Korea, All About Spying
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Vol. 6, No. 70
Saber Rattling: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Seoul yesterday that open negotiations with North Korea about nuclear weapons are over and that the Trump administration would take pre-emptive military action military action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level.
“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said, using the term coined during the Obama administration to describe waiting for the North Koreans to come to their senses. It’s the most threatening language any administration has used toward the Hermit Kingdom.
A day before going to Beijing to talk to Chinese leaders, Tillerson said the US would not continue bargaining just to delay North Korea’s development of intercontinental missiles. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has said his country is close to its first launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States.
Fox in the White House: The Trump administration has gotten into a rift with Britain, its closest ally, over a claim that Britain’s intelligence agency helped President Obama spy on then presidential candidate Trump.
The diplomatic mess started with Press Secretary Sean Spicer citing news articles to support Trump’s claim that Obama had him bugged. Spicer quoted remarks by Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano saying that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was involved.
The GCHQ quickly called the allegation “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous.”
The White House has withdrawn the claim and an anonymous British spokesman said, “We’ve received assurances these allegations won’t be repeated.”
Even while backing out of the British situation, Trump spread his wiretapping claim to include German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a somewhat uncomfortable press conference after meeting with Merkel at the White House, Trump said, “As far as wiretapping, I guess by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps.”
Merkel was reported to have been tapped by the NSA back in 2010.
More About Merkel: Trump and Merkel have a testy relationship. He appeared to ignore her offer to shake hands in front of the press.
Trump was critical of Merkel during his campaign for allowing hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees into Germany.
Yesterday he said the US had gotten the short end of trade deals with Germany. “Right now, I would say that the negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the negotiators for the United States,” Trump said. Merkel then pointed out that as a member of the European Union, Germany does not negotiate its own trade deals.
Giving an assessment of her meeting with Trump, Merkel said, “Well, people are different. Sometimes it’s difficult to find compromises, but that’s what we’ve been elected for. If everything just went like that without a problem, well, you don’t need politicians to do these jobs.”
Hearing that, Trump gave a rare smile.
More from 1600: The White House filed notice of its plan to appeal the latest stay on President Trump’s travel and immigration ban on people coming from six predominantly Muslim countries — The Justice Department is declining to defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a lawsuit that claims the Bureau is unconstitutional. The CFPB was set up to protect average people from bad loans and financial sharks. Justice also argued that the president should be able to remove the director of the Bureau at will, destroying its independence. — The Secret Service has confirmed that a man who jumped the White House fence last week roamed the grounds for 16 minutes before he was caught. No, it wasn’t the president. He was elected.
The Obit Page: Derek Wolcott, the Nobel Prize winning poet and playwright from Santa Lucia, has died at age 87. Wolcott first trained as a painter before turning to writing. He wrote about the beauty of the Caribbean, and the ugliness of living under colonial rule. His epic poem Omeros, which referred to characters from the Iliad, was considered to have been his signature achievement.