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Kelly lauds Trump’s ‘bravery’ in calling families of fallen soldiers

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WASHINGTON — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly lauded President Donald Trump for “bravely” calling the families of fallen soldiers this week and condemned criticism of the act as destroying a “sacred” pillar of American society. “He called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way he could,” said Kelly, a former Marine Corps general whose own son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. His e... Read More
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Advocates: Leave Gold Star families out of politics

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WASHINGTON — Advocates for the families of fallen servicemembers hope their sacrifices aren’t being overshadowed by the growing controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s recent handling of condolences related to the deaths of four soldiers in Niger. “Beyond the back and forth going on right now, I’m worried about the politicization of Gold Star families that is happening,” said Ryan Manion, president of the Travis Manion Foundation. “We never saw this in the past. There are some things that have to transcend p... Read More
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DSCA head looking at creating security cooperation university, among other ideas

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WASHINGTON – The new head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency is seriously considering the creation of a security cooperation university, as he looks for ways to speed the famously deliberate foreign military sales system. Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, who took over DSCA in August, is intrigued by expanding the current education options for those in the security cooperation world into “a genuine university, a security cooperation university if you will.” ... Read More
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Lawmaker: Trump told military widow that her husband “knew what he signed up for”

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WASHINGTON — A day after calling the families of four soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month to offer his condolences, President Donald Trump denied accusations from a Florida congresswoman that he callously told one widow that her dead husband “knew what he signed up for.” The twist is the latest in a days-long controversy over Trump’s response to the military deaths, many details of which are still unclear. The four special forces soldiers were conducting training missions in Niger when they were ambushed. Three wer... Read More
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Senate confirms DoD policy No. 2

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WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed David Trachtenberg to be the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy by a 79-19 vote Tuesday. Trachtenberg, who was announced as the nominee for the role back in March and had been stuck waiting a final vote in the Senate since July, helps fill a key empty seat at the Pentagon. Trachtenberg was most recently president and CEO of Shortwaver Consulting, which focuses on national securi... Read More
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McCain says he is on the rocks with Mattis and McMaster

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WASHINGTON — Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain on Tuesday painted a dire picture of his relationship with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, saying it’s worse than it was with Obama-era Defense Secretary Ash Carter. “I had a better working relationship, back and forth, with Ash Carter than I do with an old friend of 20 years,” McCain said, referring to Mattis. He added that he has considered both Mattis and McMaster “friends of mine for many years.” ... Read More
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Trump says he’ll contact families of fallen soldiers soon, accuses Obama of not calling mourners

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday defended his response to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month, promising he would reach out to their families in coming days. He also accused previous commanders-in-chief of sometimes ignoring those mourning families, mistakenly saying they avoided calling them. “I’ve written (those families) personal letters. They’ve been sent, or they are going out... Read More
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Trump to stay in Iran nuclear deal, asks Congress to revise enforcement

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will not withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, but he will decertify that Iran is meeting the terms of a separate U.S. law directing the country to forgo its nuclear weapons, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. “The intent is that we will stay in JCPOA – but the president is going to decertify under INARA,” Tillerson said in a phone call in advance of the announcement. Tillerson was refer... Read More
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Congress OKs expanded protections for federal whistleblowers

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WASHINGTON — Congress voted Thursday to boost the protection of federal whistleblowers from retaliation, part of a bid to uncover bad behavior at the Department of Veterans Affairs and other government agencies. The House easily cleared the bill, 420-0. It now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature, having previously passed the Senate in May. The measure would extend whistleblower protections to federal employees who are ... Read More
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Kelly: North Korea threat ‘manageable’; hopes diplomacy works

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WASHINGTON — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Thursday the North Korean nuclear and missile threat is “manageable” for now but the isolated nation can’t be allowed to develop the ability to strike the U.S. homeland. Although President Donald Trump recently declared his top diplomat was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with the North, Kelly said he hopes diplomacy works before the nation can develop its weapons capabilities further. ... Read More
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Kidnapped, held 5 years, US-Canadian family freed in Pakistan

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WASHINGTON — Five years after they were seized by a terrorist network in the mountains of Afghanistan, an American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children — all born in captivity — are free after a dramatic rescue orchestrated by the U.S. and Pakistani governments, officials said Thursday. The U.S. said Pakistan accomplished the release of Caitlan Coleman of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, and her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, who were abducted and held by the Haqqani network, which has ties to the Taliban and is ... Read More
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More US advisers will help break Afghan war stalemate, top US commander says

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TAMPA, Fla. — The top U.S. commander for the Middle East says American troops in Afghanistan have begun working with smaller Afghan units to prepare them for a more aggressive offensive against the Taliban next year in a push to break the stalemate in the 16-year-old war. Army Gen. Joseph Votel says there is still much more work to be done to improve Afghan forces. But he says he is seeing some positive trends in the fight. He says... Read More
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Ex-head of Tomah VA allowed to resign, given settlement

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TOMAH, Wis. — The former head of the Tomah VA Medical Center was allowed to resign and given a settlement after allegations that painkillers were being overprescribed to patients. Mario DeSanctis was fired from the hospital in 2015. But a USA Today investigation found he fought his dismissal and reached a deal in which he was allowed to resign. He and his attorney were paid $163,000. The Tomah VA hospital was rocked in January 2015... Read More
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Four HASC vets introduce new war authorization, in bipartisan effort

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WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of veterans on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee is offering a replacement authorization for the use of military force, riding some recent momentum in both chambers. Reps. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., have introduced a AUMF limited to five years, and to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State; and it would also direct the president to report to Congress 60 days after passage and then every 90 days. ... Read More
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Trump to bash Iran, argue nuclear deal not in US interests

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WASHINGTON — U.S. officials say President Donald Trump plans to deliver a broad critique of Iran in a speech declaring that the 2015 nuclear deal is not in America’s national security interests. The speech is set for Friday afternoon at the White House. The officials say Trump’s speech will outline specific faults in the accord but also address an array of Iran’s troubling non-nuclear activities. Those include its ballistic m... Read More
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Pentagon has no plans to boost size of nuclear arsenal

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has no current plans to increase the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In fact, it can barely sustain the existing force, which is decades old and is in some respects almost decrepit. The arsenal is far from being in the “perfect shape” that President Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants to see under his watch. That is why the government is planning to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a top-to-bottom “modernization,” or replacement of the three major categories of nuclear weapons — as ... Read More
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Interview: Rep. Mike Turner’s take on what’s to blame for a track record of failure in Army programs

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The House Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee conducts oversight of Army and Air Force acquisition programs, all Navy and Marine Corps aviation programs and the National Guard and Army and Air Force National Guard and Reserve. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the subcommittee and a former mayor of Dayton, is well known in the House for campaigning to end budget caps that were passed in 2011. He talked Army networks, Space Corps and defense budgeting with Defense News on Capitol Hill on Oct. 5. The House and Sena... Read More
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Officials: West Virginia VA hospital intentionally skewed patient data

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Officials say a West Virginia Veterans Affairs medical center intentionally skewed patient data to reduce both the reported wait times and the volume of patients. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said in a news release last week that a whistleblower prompted the investigation of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg. Officials say that over the last seven years, a manager at the facility urged nursing staff to place emergency patients into two unofficial clinics rather than record the encount... Read More
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Hezbollah says new US measures won’t affect group

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BEIRUT — Hezbollah on Wednesday dismissed a multimillion dollar reward offered by the Trump administration in return for information on two of its key operatives, describing it as an ongoing attempt to “demonize” the group. The tougher U.S. measures, including a plan to further tighten sanctions imposed on Hezbollah, are part of a larger effort to ramp up pressure on Iran, which has expanded its influence across the region through the Lebanese militant group and other proxies. ... Read More
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Trump says Iran deal decision coming ‘very shortly’

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he will “very shortly” announce his decision on U.S. participation in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, as aides prepared for an end-of-the-week rollout. Trump has until Sunday to notify Congress whether Iran remains in compliance with the accord under which it limited its atomic program in exchange for sanctions relief. A congressional source and a non-governmental source familiar with the matter said the White House was looking at a Friday announcement after scrapping a tent... Read More
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Mattis: Militants who attacked US troops in Niger were new to area

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Islamic extremists that ambushed and killed U.S. Army commandos in Niger last week hadn’t operated in that area before, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday, referring to what officials believe was a relatively new offshoot of the Islamic State group there. Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Tampa, Mattis said he rejected suggestions that rescue forces were slow to respond to the assault, noting that French aircraft were overhead within 30 minutes. But he said the U.S. military is reviewing wh... Read More
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Trump: US nuke force must be in ‘tiptop shape’

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he wants the U.S. nuclear arsenal in “tiptop shape” but has not asked that it be greatly expanded. Trump was responding to a news report that he had said during a meeting at the Pentagon in July that he wanted what amounted to nearly a ten-fold increase in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons. In remarks in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump denounced the NBC report and said such a big in... Read More
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Dems who opposed Iran nuke deal urge Trump to keep pact

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WASHINGTON — Several congressional Democrats who split with President Barack Obama to oppose the nuclear agreement with Iran are now urging President Donald Trump to uphold the international accord, arguing that robust enforcement is the best way to counter Tehran’s malign behavior in the Middle East. The reversal underscores deep concerns among lawmakers that Trump will inform Congress in the coming days that the landmark 2015 agreement with Iran is contrary to America’s national security interests. That declaration could l... Read More
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Poll: Most say Trump making North Korea situation worse

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WASHINGTON — North Korea’s nuclear weapons development is spooking most Americans, and two-thirds of them say President Donald Trump’s war of words with the isolated nation’s leader is making the situation worse. Less than 1 in 10 thinks Trump’s comments are making it better. Those are the findings of a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, as tensions between the adversaries escalate and North Korea comes closer to its goal of having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the continen... Read More
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Iran warns of tough response if Trump scuttles nuclear deal

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Wednesday warned of a tough response if President Donald Trump presses ahead with his threats to scuttle the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told lawmakers during a closed session of parliament that Iran “will never renegotiate” the deal brokered with the U.S. and five other world powers, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. The nuclear agreement required Iran to ... Read More
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Trump’s jibe deepens feud with Tillerson; he was joking?

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump challenged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to “compare IQ tests,” delivering a sharp-edged ribbing that threw a bright spotlight on his seemingly shaky relationship with his top diplomat. The White House insisted the president was only joking. Trump issued the challenge in an interview with Forbes magazine, when asked about reports that Tillerson called him a “moron” after a classified briefing this summer. The president responded that if the claim was true, the two should duke it out... Read More
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Turkey’s Erdogan says arrested US consulate staffer is a spy

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday branded a U.S. consulate staffer who was arrested by Turkish authorities a spy and said it was Turkey’s rights to take steps against “an internal threat,” in the latest swipe in an escalating feud with the United States. Speaking at a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Erdogan also accused the U.S. ambassador to Turkey of wrecking ties between the NATO allies by suspending the issuing of visas to Turkish citizens at U.S. diplomatic missions following the ... Read More
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Report: Online trolls targeting US troops, veterans

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WASHINGTON — Online trolls appear to be targeting U.S. veterans and military members on social media in an effort to confuse and unsettle the community, according to a new Oxford University study released this week. Researchers from the school’s Computational Propaganda Project found “significant and persistent interactions between current and former military personnel and a broad network of Russia-focused accounts, conspiracy theory focused accounts, and European right-wing accounts.” ... Read More
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NATO chief: ‘We don’t want a new Cold War’ with Russia

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BUCHAREST, Romania — NATO does not want a “new Cold War” with Russia, despite members’ concerns about the Russian military buildup close to NATO’s border, the chief of the military alliance said Monday. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was speaking at the end of a four-day NATO parliamentary assembly in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. “We are concerned by .... (Russia’s) lack of transparency when it comes to military exercises,” he said.... Read More
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US-backed Syrian fighters preparing for final push in Raqqa

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BEIRUT — U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria are preparing for a final offensive on neighborhoods still held by the Islamic State group in the city of Raqqa, a spokesman for the group said Monday. A U.S. official affirmed that the battle for Raqqa is now approaching its last phase. Mustafa Bali of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces told The Associated Press that the battle is expected to last between seven to 10 days. The extremists still have hundreds of fighters in the city that they once declared as their de facto capital. ... Read More
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Senators want more oversight of VA budgets, spending

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WASHINGTON — Tired of emergency funding requests from Veterans Affairs officials, a bipartisan group of senators is pushing new legislation mandating new outside oversight of the department to spur better budgeting practices. “Over the past several months, we’ve seen the VA lurch from funding crisis to funding crisis because of its inability to effectively manage its budget,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and one of the proposal’s sponsors. “Our v... Read More
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Source: Blackwater founder considering Wyoming Senate bid

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WASHINGTON — Blackwater Worldwide founder Erik Prince is considering a Republican primary challenge to Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a senior member of the Senate GOP leadership team, in a race that could pit the party’s establishment against insurgents fueled by allies of President Donald Trump. Prince was in Wyoming this weekend to discuss a possible Senate campaign with family members and has been encouraged to run by Steve Bannon, a former top White House strategist to Trump, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the pr... Read More
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Iran Guard chief warns US against imposing new sanctions

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TEHRAN, Iran — The chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Sunday the U.S. should move its military bases farther from Iran’s borders if it imposes new sanctions against Tehran, the official IRNA news reported. The Sunday report quotes Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying: “If new sanctions go into effect, the country should move its regional bases to a 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) radius” out of the range of Iranian missiles. Currently, U.S.... Read More
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Abe says Japan fully behind US on pressuring North Korea

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TOKYO — Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that his government fully supports the U.S. stance on pressuring North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, with all options on the table. In a televised debate Sunday among leaders of major political parties, Abe said North Korea had failed to deliver on past promises to give up its pursuit of nuclear technology made during “six-party” talks with Japan, China, the U.S., Russia and South Korea. ... Read More
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Suspected US drone strike kills 5 al-Qaida fighters in Yemen

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SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni tribal leaders say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed five alleged al-Qaida fighters in the country’s central Marib province. They say the men were traveling Sunday in the Saud area of Rawan district when a missile hit their car, engulfing it in flames. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Yemen fell into chaos following its 2011 Arab Spring uprising that removed longtime autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh, now a... Read More
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Iran president: 10 Trumps can’t roll back nuke deal benefits

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s president defended the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers on Saturday, saying not even 10 Donald Trumps can roll back its benefits to his country, state TV reported. Hassan Rouhani’s comments came as President Donald Trump appears to be stepping back from his campaign pledge to tear up the deal, instead aiming to take other measures against Iran and its affiliates. State TV broadcast Rouhani while addressing students at Tehran Univ... Read More
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In Pacific, rising tensions evoke troubling nuclear legacy

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — As a young boy growing up on Bikini Atoll, Alson Kelen spent idyllic days playing on the beach and fishing. His grandfather built canoes and his father tended the land. With fewer than 150 people on the remote Pacific island it was a close community, he says, with few signs of the former U.S. nuclear testing program other than the concrete bunkers he was told to avoid and the sunken ships in the lagoon. But in 1978, when Kelen was 1... Read More
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White House won’t clarify Trump’s hints of military action

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WASHINGTON — White House officials declined to clarify remarks this week by President Donald Trump hinting at looming military action against U.S. adversaries, saying only that the commander in chief is keeping all of his options open. On Thursday, at a reception with the families of senior military leaders, Trump invited reporters into a photo op and announced the moment “could be the calm, the calm before the storm.” When asked for further clarificatio... Read More
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Thornberry: There’s no time to wait for Space Corps

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WASHINGTON — As lawmakers debate a proposal to start a new military branch dedicated to space, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry said the time for Congress to act is now. “I don’t meant to be too dismal, but I’ve been in too many classified briefings,” Thornberry, R-Texas, told reporters Thursday. “As I look at what Russia and the Chinese are doing, we don’t have a lot of evolutionary time to sit and hope we kind of drift in the right direction. We are more dependent than anybody else on space.” ... Read More
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Trump, during photo shoot, talks of ‘calm before the storm’

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump delivered a foreboding message Thursday night, telling reporters as he posed for photos with his senior military leaders that this might be “the calm before the storm.” White House reporters were summoned suddenly Thursday evening and told the president had decided he wanted the press to document a dinner he was holding with the military leaders and their wives. Reporters were led hastily to the grand State Dining Room... Read More
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Treasury report says no laws violated in Mnuchin’s travels

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WASHINGTON — A report by the Treasury Department’s inspector general on Thursday said that Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not violate any law in the seven trips he has taken on government airplanes but did fail to provide enough proof of why he needed to use the more expensive modes of travel. The report prepared by Rich Delmar, counsel to the Treasury inspector general, said that in many cases Mnuchin’s office relied on “a single boilerplate statement” to justify the use of military aircraft rather than the more complete “facts and arguments” t... Read More
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Report: Russian hackers target secrets taken by NSA worker

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WASHINGTON — Hackers allegedly working for the Kremlin stole details about how the U.S. infiltrates foreign networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor took the classified material home and put it on a personal computer, according to a news report published Thursday. The Wall Street Journal reported the breach of classified information. It’s the third time since 2013 that a theft of sensitive information involving an NSA contractor has become publicly known. ... Read More
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White House seeks to move past Trump/Tillerson friction

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration sought Thursday to move past the brouhaha over Rex Tillerson’s reported insult of his boss, making clear President Donald Trump alone sets the nation’s agenda that his advisers must execute. A day after the duo’s sometimes difficult relationship burst into public view, the president joined his top diplomat in disputing a report that Tillerson had considered abandoning Trump’s Cabinet earlier this year. Tillerson “never threatened to resign,” Trump tweeted, labelling NBC News’ account as “fake news.” ... Read More
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Pence pledges that US will go to the moon, Mars and beyond

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WASHINGTON — Seated before the grounded space shuttle Discovery, a constellation of Trump administration officials used soaring rhetoric to vow to send Americans back to the moon and then on to Mars. After voicing celestial aspirations, top officials moved to what National Intelligence Director Dan Coats called “a dark side” to space policy. Coats, Vice President Mike Pence, other top officials and outside space experts said the United States has to counter and perhaps match potential enemies’ ability to target U.S. satellites. ... Read More
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Judge denies bail for woman accused of leaking US secrets

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SAVANNAH, Ga. — A woman charged with leaking U.S. secrets must remain jailed until her trial, a federal judge ruled Thursday, saying her release would pose an “ongoing risk to national security.” Reality Winner, 25, is a former Air Force linguist who worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency at a facility in Augusta, Georgia, when she was charged in June with copying a classified U.S. report and mailing it to a news organization. Winner’s... Read More
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Veterans ID cards to be available starting in November

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WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs officials will start issuing new veterans ID cards next month, giving recipients an easy way to provide their military service for business discounts and other promotions. The move, first reported by Military.com, comes two years after Congress passed legislation for the cards. A VA spokesman said they’ll be made available for no cost to any veteran who applies through the department’s website. The new cards won’t replace ... Read More
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Lawmakers to US Army: If network programs worth $6B are discarded, what’s next?

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WASHINGTON — Whether the U.S. Army may shift a half-billion dollars from its ailing network programs and chart a new course will be up for debate as lawmakers reconcile rival House and Senate defense policy bills this month. But several key lawmakers said they are not ready to let the Army reboot from a $6 billion investment without explaining what’s next. Army officials argue the service lacks the survivable, mobile and hardened tactical network it would ... Read More
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US seeks to quash lawsuit opposing transgender military ban

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The Justice Department is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s moves to curtail military service by transgender people. The lawsuit was filed in August by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of eight transgender individuals, including service members in the Air Force, Coast Guard and the Army, as well as students at the U.S. Naval Academy and in the ROTC program at the University of New Haven. ... Read More
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Pentagon pumping millions of dollars more into missile defense

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is injecting $440 million more into missile defense, including yet another expansion of its fleet of missile interceptors, to counter North Korea’s accelerating push for a nuclear-armed missile capable of hitting the United States. As a reflection of its urgency, the Pentagon asked Congress to let it shift funds from the current budget rather than wait for the next defense budget. The Pentagon already had $8.2 billion in its missile defense budget prior to the add-ons. ... Read More
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Nuke deal hangs in balance as Trump plans Iran policy speech

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump could announce his secret decision on the future of the Iran nuclear deal next week. U.S. officials familiar with the president’s planning said Wednesday he is preparing to deliver an Iran policy speech in which he is expected to declare the landmark 2015 agreement contrary to America’s national security interests. The speech has been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 12 at an as yet undetermined venue in Washington, acco... Read More
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New GI Bill passes Senate

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Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have unanimously passed legislation to make major changes to education benefits for military veterans. Now all that’s left is for President Trump to sign it into law. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017 has garnered strong bipartisan support in Congress, where lawmakers have worked to fast-track the bill to the president’s desk. Senators passed the legislation by voice vote Wednesday, less than three weeks after the Forever GI Bill, as it’s become known, was introduced in the House of Representative... Read More
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Senator wants communist West Point grad booted from the Army

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WASHINGTON — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is demanding West Point officials revoke the commission of an officer who posted photos of himself with pro-communist messages hidden under his graduation uniform, calling it an “extreme embarrassment” for the military. In a letter to acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy Tuesday, the Republican senator also questioned whether service officials ignored signs of misconduct and potential insubordination during the cadet’s time at the U.S. Military Academy. ... Read More
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North Korea accuses US of imposing an ‘economic blockade’

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UNITED NATIONS — North Korea’s U.N. ambassador accused the United States on Tuesday of imposing “an economic blockade” on his country and deploying nuclear assets on the Korean Peninsula aimed at toppling leader Kim Jong Un. Ja Song Nam said the U.S. push for countries to implement what he called “illegal and unjustifiable” U.N. sanctions on North Korea is part of America’s “frantic attempt to completely block our peaceful economy for people’s everyday lives and humanitarian cooperation.” ... Read More
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Vets sue Defense Department over 1966 Spain H-bomb mishap

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Veterans groups sued the Defense Department on Tuesday in an effort to obtain disability benefits for airmen who say they were exposed to radiation while responding to a 1966 accident involving U.S. hydrogen bombs in Spain. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Connecticut says many of the 1,600 airmen who responded to the accident have been unable to obtain disability benefits for radiation-related illnesses because the Defense Department has refused for five decades to release medical testing results and other information. ... Read More
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Defense tries to cast doubt on case against Benghazi suspect

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WASHINGTON — Government witnesses in the trial of Ahmed Abu Khattala testified Tuesday in graphic detail about the bloody attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, while defense attorneys worked to raise doubt that the defendant masterminded the 2012 strikes that killed four Americans. The trial entered its second day with U.S. government prosecutors questioning diplomatic security agent Scott Wickland, who tried unsuccessfully to save ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Patrick Smith, a State Department information management officer, from a burning U.... Read More
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Iran deal’s future may hinge on face-saving fix for Trump

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WASHINGTON — The future of the Iran nuclear deal may hinge on a face-saving fix for President Donald Trump so he doesn’t have to recertify the Islamic republic’s compliance every 90 days, according to U.S. officials. Several officials familiar with internal discussions say the periodic reviews mandated by Congress have become such a source of embarrassment for Trump that his national security aides are seeking ways for him to stop signing off on the seven-nation accord without scuttling it entirely. ... Read More
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Defense chief says US should stay in nuclear deal with Iran

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WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday the United States should remain in the nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration that constrains Iran’s ability to build a nuclear arsenal. Sen. Angus King of Maine asked Mattis during a congressional hearing if he thinks it’s in the national security interests of the United States to stay a part of the international accord. Mattis said, “Yes, senator, I do.” ... Read More
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Mattis reveals new rules of engagement

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WASHINGTON – U.S. forces are no longer bound by requirements to be in contact with enemy forces in Afghanistan before opening fire, thanks to a change in rules of engagement orchestrated by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Mattis, appearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford told a pair of congressional hearings that the White House gave him a free hand to reconsider the rules of engagement and alter them to speed the battle against the Taliban if need be. ... Read More
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Families, congressman file lawsuit on Osprey crash

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WASHINGTON – The widows of two U.S. Marine Corps pilots killed in an MV-22 Osprey crash in 2000 and the congressman who pursued answers about that incident for years announced Tuesday they have filed a FOIA lawsuit against DOD to obtain additional documents on the crash. Families of April 2000 USMC Osprey crash file FOIA lawsuit for documents Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. announced Tuesday, Oct. 3 2017, that he and the widows of U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 pilots Lt. Col. John Brow and Maj. Brooks Gruber were filing a FOIA lawsuit to obtain documents relating to the crash. The ... Read More
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Mattis expects more NATO troops in Afghanistan as US numbers remain murky

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WASHINGTON — Now that U.S. military commanders have increased the number of troops in Afghanistan, they’re hopeful that NATO officials will follow suit in months to come. But they’re still withholding some details about how many forces they hope to have there, and how many have already arrived. Defense Secretary James Mattis said he expects to get a commitment from coalition partners soon to add several thousand more fighters to the Afghanistan mission, ... Read More
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VA watchdog reviewing Shulkin 10-day trip to Europe

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WASHINGTON — The Veterans Affairs Department’s watchdog says it is reviewing Secretary David Shulkin’s 10-day trip to Europe with his wife that mixed business meetings with sightseeing. Shulkin disclosed last week he traveled to Denmark and England to discuss veterans’ issues. Travel records released by VA show four days of the trip were spent on personal activities, including attending a Wimbledon tennis match. Shulkin traveled on a commercial airline, and his wife’s airfare and meals were paid for as part of “temporary duty” expenses. ... Read More
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US Senate won’t confirm Trump’s Pentagon nominees until McCain gets Iraq and Afghanistan details

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain said Tuesday he is refusing to advance President Trump’s nominees to the Pentagon until he is satisfied it is communicating its plans for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Outside a tense SASC hearing on Afghanistan with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Joint Chiefs Chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford, McCain told Defense News that because the administration has not been open with Congress, “we’ve been holding nominations…from the Pentagon to fill in those Pentagon jobs.” ... Read More
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Cold War radiation testing in US widespread, author claims

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ST. LOUIS — Three members of Congress are demanding answers after a St. Louis scholar’s new book revealed details of secret Cold War-era U.S. government testing in which countless unsuspecting people, including many children, pregnant women and minorities, were fed, sprayed or injected with radiation and other dangerous materials. The health ramifications of the tests are unknown. Lisa Martino-Taylor, an associate professor of sociology at St. Louis Community College who wrote “Behind the Fog: How the U.S. Cold War Radiological Weapons Program Exposed... Read More
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Trump hails stronger Thailand ties as he meets junta leader

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WASHINGTON — Making no reference to Thailand’s military rule, President Donald Trump on Monday hailed strengthening relations with America’s oldest ally in Asia as he welcomed a junta leader who took power in a coup. The Oval Office meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha underscored shifting U.S. foreign policy priorities under Trump, emphasizing American trade and strategic interests over democracy and human rights in the nations it deals with. ... Read More
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Trial opens for suspected mastermind of Benghazi attacks

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WASHINGTON — The alleged mastermind of the 2012 attacks on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, despises America and when his hatred “boiled over,” he organized the strike that killed four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, a government prosecutor told the jury on Monday. Opening statements began in the case against Ahmed Abu Khattala, whom prosecutors describe as the ringleader of the attacks at a diplomatic compound — an attack that became a political flashpoint given its timing weeks before President Barack Obama’s re-election. ... Read More
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Senate Foreign Relations chairman: US troops likely in Afghanistan for another decade

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WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expects the United States will have troops stationed in Afghanistan for another decade, potentially pushing the war there into its 26th year or beyond. In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker — who announced this week he plans to retire from Congress in 2018 — said Afghan security forces today are still dependent on the United States, and appear to remain that way for years to come. ... Read More
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This week in Congress: Mattis testifies on Afghanistan

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WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James Mattis will appear before both House and Senate panels this week to discuss President Donald Trump’s new strategy in Afghanistan and the effects on stability in the broader region. Mattis, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., will appear before the House and Senate Armed Services committees on Tuesday, giving his assessment of progress so far and the challenges ahead. It’s the second appearance fo... Read More
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Attacks stoke debate over need for domestic terrorism laws

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TULSA, Okla. — Attacks this summer on counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, and an empty Air Force recruiting station in Oklahoma had the hallmarks of terrorist attacks but weren’t prosecuted as such. Even though many in law enforcement referred to them as acts of domestic terrorism, there is a simple reason such charges weren’t brought: They don’t exist. U.S. law defines a terrorist as having ties to a foreign entity, such as the Islamic Sta... Read More
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Trump says envoy ‘wasting his time’ talking to North Korea

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, raising speculation about whether Trump could be undermining efforts to maintain channels of communication or somehow bolstering the diplomat’s hand in possible future talks. It was not immediately clear what prompted Trump’s tweets, among a series of weekend posts that ranged from hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico to NFL players’ allegiance to the nationa... Read More
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Guam governor asks Defense Department to stop construction

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HAGATNA, Guam — Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo has called for the U.S. Department of Defense to halt military construction projects on the island until the shortage of foreign labor is remedied. Federal immigration officials have denied most of the requests by Guam businesses to use temporary foreign labor under the H-2B visa program, the Pacific Daily News reported on Friday. ... Read More
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Amid Cabinet controversies, VA promises to post secretary’s travel details online

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WASHINGTON — In response to the growing scandal of Cabinet officials using pricey private aircraft for business trips, Veterans Affairs officials announced Friday they will post details of all official travel by department Secretary David Shulkin online to provide transparency about his travels. “Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know about my official travel as secretary, and posting this information online for all to see will do just that,” Shulkin said in a statement. ... Read More
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Pentagon: Airstrikes killed 3 Islamic State drone experts

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. military says it has killed three men who played key roles in developing, building and modifying Islamic State drones. Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition in Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday that the three were killed in a series of U.S. airstrikes in Syria in mid-September. Dillon says two of the men were responsible for manufacturing and modifying commercially produced drones. The other ma... Read More
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Red Cross will soon see American ISIS fighter held in Iraq

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Red Cross to visit American citizen accused of fighting with ISIS WASHINGTON — The International Committee of the Red Cross will soon visit an American citizen who was picked up on Syria’s battlefield two weeks ago and is being held by U.S. forces in Iraq, U.S. officials said Thursday. The Pentagon has accused the man of fighting for the Islamic State group. The unidentified American surrendered to U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces around Sept. 12, and has been detained since then as an unlaw... Read More
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Russia’s Putin visits Turkey as ties between the two deepen

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ANKARA, Turkey — Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Turkey on Thursday for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that focused on the situation in Iraq and Syria along with bilateral trade. Putin’s visit came as Turkey and Russia are working to deepen ties in a turnaround for the two nations, which have backed opposing sides in Syria and nearly came to blows over Turkey’s downing of a Russian plane in 2015. The two leaders showered one another w... Read More
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Is Trump the ‘bad cop’ with North Korea? It may not be working

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WASHINGTON — If President Donald Trump and his top diplomat are playing “good cop, bad cop” with North Korea, it doesn’t appear to be working: Entreaties of diplomacy aren’t yielding meaningful talks, and military threats aren’t scaring Pyongyang into halting its nuclear advance. Instead, America’s mixed messaging may be increasing the risk of miscalculation by the isolated, communist government, which lacks insight into the Trump administration’s thinking and could mistake brinkmanship for an overt threat of war. ... Read More