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Trump would be ‘very disappointed’ in Kim if reports about North Korea launch site true

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Trump would be 'very disappointed' in Kim if reports about North Korea launch site true

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would be very disappointed in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if reports about rebuilding at a rocket launch site in North Korea were true.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Danny Burch, an oil engineer who was taken hostage in Yemen in September 2017, and his family in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Two U.S. think tanks and South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Tuesday that work was underway to restore part of North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station even as Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a second summit in Hanoi last week.

“I would be very disappointed if that were happening,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, when asked if North Korea was breaking a promise.

“Well we’re going to see. It’s too early to see. … It’s a very early report. We’re the ones that put it out. But I would be very, very disappointed in Chairman Kim, and I don’t think I will be, but we’ll see what happens. We’ll take a look. It’ll ultimately get solved.”

North Korea began work to dismantle a missile engine test stand at Sohae last year after pledging to do so in a first summit with Trump in June.

A second summit between Trump and Kim broke down last week in Hanoi over differences on how far North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear program and the degree of U.S. willingness to ease sanctions.

“We have a very nasty problem there. We have to solve a problem,” Trump said, while adding in apparent reference to Kim: “The relationship is good.”

Satellite images seen by 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea project, showed that structures on the Sohae launch pad had been rebuilt sometime between Feb. 16 and March 2, Jenny Town, managing editor at the project and an analyst at the Stimson Center think tank, told Reuters.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank released a separate report, also citing satellite imagery, that concluded North Korea was “pursuing a rapid rebuilding” at the site.

New of the rebuilding work at Sohae was first reported by Yonhap news agency, which quoted South Korea lawmakers on details of a briefing by the country’s National Intelligence Service in Seoul on Tuesday.

A U.S. government source said the work at Sohae likely began before the summit, which was preceded by a series of lower-level preparatory talks in February.

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, warned on Tuesday that new sanctions could be introduced if North Korea did not scrap its nuclear weapons program.The breakdown of the Feb. 27-28 summit and Bolton’s sanctions threat have raised questions about the future of a dialogue process the Trump administration has pursued in an effort to persuade North Korea to abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States.

Some analysts have interpreted the work at Sohae as an attempt by North Korea to put pressure on Washington to agree to a deal rather than as a definite move to resume tests there.

The U.S. government source, who did not want to be otherwise identified, said North Korea’s plan in rebuilding at the site could have been to conspicuously stop again as a demonstration of good faith if a summit agreement was struck, while the work would represent a sign of defiance or resolve if the meeting failed.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful he would send a delegation to North Korea in the coming weeks but that he had “no commitment yet.”

While North Korea’s official media said last week that Kim and Trump had decided at the summit to continue talks, its vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, told reporters Kim “might lose his willingness to pursue a deal” and questioned the need to continue.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said earlier on Wednesday that the United States was “continuing to have ongoing conversations with North Korea,” but did not elaborate.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who led pre-summit negotiations with North Korea, met with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Washington on Wednesday to discuss future steps, a State Department official said.

Reporting by Jeff Mason and David Brunnstrom; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, David Alexander and Tim Ahmann; editing by Richard Chang and Jonathan Oatis

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Harris calls for $315 billion to boost teacher salaries

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Kamala Harris' Texas trip, Hickenlooper's 'embarrassment' featured by 'Daily Briefing' on Political Tales from the Trail

Sen. Kamala Harris wants to give teachers across the country a raise.

In the first major proposal of her presidential campaign, the Democrat from California unveiled a plan on Tuesday to eliminate the teacher pay gap and give the average teacher a $13,500 per year raise.

The price tag for the ambitious plan? $315 billion over 10 years.

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“We are not paying our teachers their value,” Harris said in a statement. “Teachers should not have to work two or three jobs to pay the bills. This proposal will lift up teachers and families across America, give every American teacher a raise, and make a much-needed investment in our country’s future.”

Elementary, middle, and high schools obtain most of their funding from local and state governments, with Washington contributing less than 10 percent of funding. But Harris says if elected to the White House, she’ll push for an immediate federal investment to provide 10 percent of the funding needed to close the teacher pay gap between teachers and professional workers with similar college degrees.

Harris is calling for the Department of Education to work with the states to set a base salary goal for entry-level teachers, with more advanced teachers seeing increases based on their years in the classroom. The proposal also includes additional federal funding for the country’s highest-need schools and a multi-billion-dollar investment in programs that the Harris campaign says “elevate the teaching profession and support principals and other school leaders.”

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The campaign explained that the $315 billion plan would be paid  “by strengthening the estate tax and cracking down on loopholes that let the very wealthiest, with estates worth multiple millions or billions of dollars, avoid paying their fair share.”

The Republican National Committee called the plan “another liberal pie-in-the-sky proposal that will never see the light of day.”

“With a $315 billion dollar price tag, no real plan to pay for it, and new spending mandates slapped on states, this proposal has big-government written all over it,” RNC National Press Secretary Blair Ellis argued.

KAMALA HARRIS CALLS PRESIDENT TRUMP A RACIST

Calls for increasing teacher pay are nothing new in politics. For decades, school teachers have argued that they’re underpaid and that the schools in which they work are underfunded by state and local governments.

But the issue’s been increasingly in the national spotlight, with some high-profile walkouts over pay over the past year by teachers in more than half a dozen states. And teachers unions traditionally have been key players in Democratic Party politics.

The powerful American Federation of Teachers – which remains neutral in the wide-open race for the Democratic presidential nomination – predictably praised the Harris plan.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, is also pushing for increases in early education teacher pay as part of her plan to provide universal child care.

The average annual salary for a public school teacher during the 2016-2017 academic year was $58,950. That was down slightly from the previous year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Donna Brazile: We need to see full Mueller report to get country ‘back on same page,’ protect from future attacks

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Donna Brazile calls for full Mueller report to be made public after release of summary findings

Former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile says that she wants to see the full report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to see how the Trump campaign responded to Russia’s attempts to impact the election.

“We are adults, we need to see the report. And I think once the report is out, all of the report, then I think the American people can get a better understanding of what’s happened,” Brazile told “Fox & Friends.”

“And hopefully we can stop thinking about who’s right and who’s wrong and figure out how to protect our country from the hacking.”

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Let us see the report and I think we’ll all get back on the same page when it comes to protecting our country from future attacks

— Donna Brazile on “Fox & Friends”

Brazile noted the summary released by Attorney General William Barr Sunday which said that Trump did not conspire with Russia did leave some unanswered question.

“It says that ‘the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,’” Brazile said.

“I’m a Democrat, but I’m also an American, I want to know when the Russians came to Trump campaign and they tried to give them information did they tell the FBI, did they call the police and say, ‘hey, we got these guys from Russia trying to give us stuff we don’t need or we don’t want.’”

DONNA BRAZILE: WHAT WE REALLY NEED TO LEARN FROM THE MUELLER REPORT

Brazile added: “Let us see the report and I think we’ll all get back on the same page when it comes to protecting our country from future attacks.”

The former head of the DNC also defended Democrats talks of continuing investigations saying that they have a “constitutional responsibility,” adding it is both parties responsibility to protect the country from future hacking attempts.

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“Do you know what I want Democrats and Republicans to do?  I want them to make sure this never happens to our country again,” Brazile said.

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U.S. imposes sanctions on network supporting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

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U.S. imposes sanctions on network supporting Iran's Revolutionary Guards

FILE PHOTO: A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday imposed fresh sanctions on a network of companies and people in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates it said was transferring billions of dollars and euros to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

The U.S. Treasury said it was blacklisting 25 people and entities, including front companies based in the three countries, associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, or MODAFL.

The targeted institutions include banks and other financial institutions, including Ansar Bank, Atlas Exchange, Iranian Atlas Company.

“We are targeting a vast network of front companies and individuals located in Iran, Turkey, and the UAE to disrupt a scheme the Iranian regime has used to illicitly move more than a billion dollars in funds,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Mnuchin said the IRGC and MODAFL continued to try to evade sanctions to help Iran’s government fund terrorism and destabilize the Middle East.

Washington reimposed sanctions against Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, and moved to isolate Tehran. It has also imposed a string of new sanctions, including against the IRGC and its external arm, Quds Force, to choke off funding for its overseas operations.

The IRGC is by far Iran’s most powerful security organization and has control over large stakes in Iran’s economy and huge influence in its political system.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Susan Heavey; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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