AP News in Brief 05-10-19

  • This Thursday photo provided by the North Korean government shows a test of military weapon systems in North Korea. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

North Korea fires two suspected missiles in possible new warning

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea on Thursday, South Korean officials said, its second weapons launch in five days and a possible warning that nuclear disarmament talks with Washington could be in danger.

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South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapons flew 260 miles and 167 miles, respectively. It said it is working with the United States to determine more details, such as the types of weapons that were fired. North Korean state media said Friday that leader Kim Jong Un helped guide the firing of the missiles Thursday and learned about “various long-range strike means,” but the statement from the propaganda services didn’t provide more specifics on the type of missiles fired.

What was launched Thursday is a crucial detail, as North Korea is banned by the United Nations from testing ballistic missiles. Such a test could result in more sanctions, and the North’s so far unsuccessful push for large-scale sanctions relief is at the heart of the current diplomatic impasse with Washington.

South Korea’s military said earlier that at least one projectile was launched from the Sino-ri area of North Pyongan province, an area known to have one of North Korea’s oldest missile bases where a brigade operates mid-range Rodong missiles. It later said there were two launches from the nearby town of Kusong, where North Korea conducted its first successful flight tests of its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile and Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, both in 2017.

Kusong is also home to missile test facilities that were critical to the development of North Korea’s solid-fuel Pukguksong-2, which was successfully flight-tested for the first time in February 2017, in the North’s first missile test after President Donald Trump took office.

Burned before, US pushes for way to enforce China trade deal

WASHINGTON — In trying to hammer out a trade agreement with China, the Trump administration may be drawing inspiration from classic rock, specifically The Who’s anthem “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Fed up with China for breaking past promises, the administration is insisting on provisions designed to force the Chinese to live up to any commitments they make in trade talks that entered an 11th round on Thursday.

In fact, top U.S. trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week accused the Chinese of already reneging on concessions they’d made earlier in the negotiations.

In retaliation for that alleged backsliding, the United States is poised to dramatically escalate the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies at 12:01 a.m. Friday Eastern time — by raising import taxes on $200 billion in Chinese goods from 10% to 25%.

And President Donald Trump said he’s preparing to slap 25% tariffs on another $325 billion in Chinese imports, covering everything China ships to the United States.

Nike’s plan for better-fitting kicks: Show us your feet

NEW YORK — Nike wants to meet your feet.

The sneaker seller will add a foot-scanning tool on its app this summer that will measure the length, width and other dimensions of customers’ feet after they point a smartphone camera to their toes. The app will then tell shoppers what size to buy each of its shoes in, which Nike hopes will get you in the right fit and cut down on costly returns as it seeks to sell more of its goods through its websites and apps.

But Nike will also get something it has never had before: a flood of data on the feet of regular people, a potential goldmine for the shoe maker, which says it will use the information to improve the design of its shoes. Nike mainly relies on the feet of star athletes to build its kicks.

“Nikes will become better and better fitting shoes for you and everyone else,” says Michael Martin, who oversees Nike’s websites and apps.

From wire sources

Nike won’t sell or share the data to other companies, Martin says. And he says shoppers don’t have to save the foot scans to their Nike accounts. But if they do, they’ll only have to scan their feet once and Nike’s apps, websites and stores will know your dimensions every time you need to buy sneakers. Workers at Nike stores will also be equipped with iPods to do the scanning, replacing those metal sizing contraptions.

Sen. Burr takes GOP fire over Trump Jr subpoena

WASHINGTON — Republicans lashed out Thursday at fellow GOP Sen. Richard Burr for his committee’s subpoena of President Donald Trump’s son, a move that suggested the Russia investigation is not “case closed” as some in the party insist. Trump said he was “very surprised” at the move.

The revolt by some against the Senate intelligence committee chairman comes after The Associated Press and other news outlets reported the panel is calling in Donald Trump Jr. to answer questions about his 2017 testimony to the panel as part of its probe into Russian election interference. But the issue of re-calling Trump’s son laid bare the conflict inside the president’s party over whether probes involving Russian election meddling are still merited.

It’s the first known subpoena of a member of Trump’s immediate family and a new sign that the Senate panel is continuing with its own two-year-long investigation, even after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call from the Senate floor on Tuesday to move on.

“This case is closed. The Mueller Report cleared @DonaldJTrumpJr and he’s already spent 27 hours testifying before Congress,” tweeted Burr’s fellow North Carolina Republican senator, Thom Tillis, one of several GOP senators who criticized Burr. “It’s time to move on &start focusing on issues that matter to Americans.”

A source familiar with the committee’s deliberations said the subpoena went out “weeks ago” and all committee members were aware of it. The person, who requested anonymity to discuss the internal negotiations, said members had been regularly briefed on communications with Trump Jr.

For thousands of asylum seekers, all they can do is wait

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — For thousands of asylum seekers, there are many ways to wait — and wait, and wait — at the threshold of the United States.

Parents and children sleep in tents next to bridges leading to Texas for weeks on end, desperately hoping their names and numbers are called so they can be let in.

Some immigrants complain of shakedowns and kidnappings by gangs and corrupt officials, particularly across the border in Texas. Others have paid to jump to the front of the line; the rest, determined to enter the country legally, wait patiently, even if it takes months.

This is what has happened since the Trump administration placed asylum in a chokehold.

The Associated Press visited eight cities along the U.S.-Mexico border and found 13,000 immigrants on waiting lists to get into the country — exposed to haphazard and often-dubious arrangements that vary sharply.

Juul’s ‘switch’ campaign for smokers draws new scrutiny

WASHINGTON — The young models and the candy-colored graphics that helped propel Juul to the top of the e-cigarette market are gone. In their place are people like Carolyn, a 54-year-old former smoker featured in new TV commercials touting Juul as an alternative for middle-age smokers.

“I don’t think anyone including myself thought that I could make the switch,” Carolyn says, sitting in a suburban living room as piano music quietly plays in the background.

The tagline: “Make the switch.”

Under intense scrutiny amid a wave of underage vaping, Juul is pushing into television with a multimillion-dollar campaign rebranding itself as a stop-smoking aid for adults trying to kick cigarettes. But the strategy is raising concerns from anti-smoking experts and activists who say the company is making unproven claims for its product.

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US seizes North Korean ship amid tense moment in relations

WASHINGTON — The U.S. said Thursday that it has seized a North Korean cargo ship that was used to violate international sanctions, a first-of-its kind enforcement action that comes amid a tense moment in relations between the two countries.

The “Wise Honest,” North Korea’s second largest cargo ship, was detained in April 2018 as it traveled toward Indonesia. It’s now in the process of being moved to American Samoa, Justice Department officials said.

Officials made the announcement hours after North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea, the second weapons launch in five days and a possible signal that stalled talks over its nuclear weapons program are in trouble. The public disclosure that the vessel is now in U.S. custody may further inflame tensions, though U.S. officials said the timing of their complaint was not a response to the missile launch.

Justice Department lawyers laid out the case for confiscating the ship in a complaint filed in New York, arguing that payments for maintenance and operation of the vessel were channeled through unwitting U.S. financial institutions in violation of American law. The coal trade itself is also believed to fund the isolated country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

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“This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, told reporters. He later added: “The U.S. sanctions against North Korea reflect the threat these programs pose to U.S. national security.”

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