AP News in Brief 06-11-18

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is greeted by Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan at the Changi International Airport, Sunday in Singapore, ahead of a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. (Ministry of Communications and Information Singapore/via AP)

Final preparations begin for Trump-Kim high-stakes summit

SINGAPORE — Final preparations are underway in Singapore for Tuesday’s historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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U.S. and North Korean officials are meeting Monday at the Ritz Carlton in this island city-state to negotiate before a sit-down meant to settle a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal. It comes as officials are revealing more details about meeting — the first between a U.S. president and North Korean leader.

A U.S. official said Monday that after a handshake scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Trump and Kim will first meet one on one with translators in a session that could last up to two hours before they open the meeting to their respective advisers. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations and insisted on anonymity.

The American president tweeted Monday morning: “Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!”

Still, even as he turned his attention to the summit, Trump continued his blistering attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday, saying “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal.” Again accusing the longtime U.S. ally of unfair trade practices, Trump added: “Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”

Trump’s tweets slam Canada and Trudeau anew from Singapore

QUEBEC CITY — President Donald Trump took more swipes at Canada and its prime minister over trade issues as he settled in for a summit with North Korea in Singapore, contending that “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal.”

Trump roiled the Group of Seven meeting in Canada by first agreeing to a group statement on trade only to withdraw from it while complaining that he had been blindsided by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticism of Trump’s tariff threats at a summit-ending news conference. As he flew from Canada to Singapore Saturday night, Trump displayed his ire via Twitter, which he also employed to insult Trudeau as “dishonest” and “weak.”

The attack on a longtime ally and its leader drew sharp criticism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also attended the summit, told German public television that she found Trump’s tweet disavowing the G-7 statement “sobering” and “a little depressing.” Merkel also said the European Union would “act” against the U.S. trade measures.

Unbowed, Trump tweeted anew Monday morning from Singapore: “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal. According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”

He added: “Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers &Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay? Not fair to the PEOPLE of America! $800 Billion Trade Deficit…And add to that the fact that the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!). The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!”

In eye of storm, North Koreans see scant news of Kim’s trip

PYONGYANG, North Korea — With all the attention focused on Singapore and the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang must be buzzing with excitement, right?

Well, maybe, if anyone here knew it was happening.

Instead, North Korea’s capital was like the calm in the center of a storm.

With few sources of information other than government-run media, gossip and word of mouth, North Koreans were largely in the dark about the momentous — and potentially life-changing — events taking place outside of their isolated nation.

Before Monday, official news outlets had reported only that the two leaders planned to meet, without saying where or when or offering any other specifics. Even as Kim arrived in Singapore on a special Air China flight Sunday, just hours before Trump, there was still no word in North Korea.

Unorthodox Trump faces toughest test yet in NKorea summit

SINGAPORE — Embarking on a self-described “mission of peace,” President Donald Trump puts his seat-of-the-pants foreign policy to its toughest test yet as he attempts this week to personally broker an end to North Korea’s nuclear program in talks with Kim Jong Un.

The impulsive American president, who just this weekend sowed chaos within the Western alliance, is set to face his match on the global stage as he prepares to meet Kim in Singapore on Tuesday.

In the historic first meeting between the leaders of the technically-still-warring nations, Trump is prioritizing instinct over planning. Unlike traditional summits between heads of state, where most of the work is completed in advance, U.S. officials say the only thing certain ahead of these talks will be their unpredictability.

Ever since Trump shocked allies, White House officials and, by some accounts, the North Koreans themselves when he accepted Kim’s March invitation for a meeting, the two leaders have lurched toward an uncertain encounter that could affect millions.

“It’s unknown territory in the truest sense, but I really feel confident,” Trump told reporters Saturday. “I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do something great for his people and he has that opportunity and he won’t have that opportunity again.”

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‘Ocean’s 8’ opens with franchise-best $41.5M to top weekend

NEW YORK — “Ocean’s 8,” the female-fronted overhaul of the starry heist franchise, opened with an estimated $41.5 million at the box office, taking the weekend’s top spot from the fast-falling “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

At a lower price point and in less fanboy-guarded franchise, “Ocean’s 8” — despite ho-hum reviews — found nothing like the stormy reception than the female-led “Ghostbusters” reboot did on the same weekend two years ago.

Made for approximately $70 million, “Ocean’s 8” and its cast featuring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, set an opening-weekend best for the franchise, not accounting for inflation. The three previous “Ocean’s” films — starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon, and based on the 1960 original “Ocean’s 11,” with Frank Sinatra — all debuted with between $36-39 million in the last decade.

“Ocean’s 8,” also starring Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter, drew a largely female audience — 69 percent — for a result that slightly surpassed expectations.

“We thought we’d come in in the $35-40 (million) range,” said Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein. “Number one, it’s fun. Number two, it hits an underserved audience. Unfortunately, there is just a lack of stories that are aimed right at women.”

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No voter registration point of pride, unease in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. — John Erickson breezed into downtown Bismarck’s government building, flashed his ID and picked up a primary ballot.

A few minutes later, the early voting ballot complete, Erickson traded pleasantries with friends and familiar poll workers and headed back to tend the cows and crops on his farm north of the state’s capital city.

Erickson, 86, the proud non-owner of a neither a television nor computer, relishes the fact that he has never had to register to vote in his native state.

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“I like life simple,” he said.

In an era when hacking has raised concerns about the security of America’s elections and President Donald Trump rages about voter fraud, North Dakota stands out as the only state that doesn’t require voter registration.