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Thread: The TRUMP POTUS "Tribute" & "Tribulations" of the Politically Incorrect for 2017....!

  1. #1851
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    I always thought it was "put your head between your legs and try to kiss your ass good-bye"? /\

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    Verified VCDS User vreihen's Avatar
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    Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?

    JAN 14, 2018 | 4:00 AM

    Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That's according to the Census Bureau's Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.

    Given robust job growth and the prosperity generated by several industries, it's worth asking why California has fallen behind, especially when the state's per-capita GDP increased approximately twice as much as the U.S. average over the five years ending in 2016 (12.5%, compared with 6.27%).

    It's not as though California policymakers have neglected to wage war on poverty. Sacramento and local governments have spent massive amounts in the cause. Several state and municipal benefit programs overlap with one another; in some cases, individuals with incomes 200% above the poverty line receive benefits. California state and local governments spent nearly $958 billion from 1992 through 2015 on public welfare programs, including cash-assistance payments, vendor payments and "other public welfare," according to the Census Bureau. California, with 12% of the American population, is home today to about one in three of the nation's welfare recipients.

    The generous spending, then, has not only failed to decrease poverty; it actually seems to have made it worse.

    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some states — principally Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia — initiated welfare reform, as did the federal government under President Clinton and a Republican Congress. Tied together by a common thread of strong work requirements, these overhauls were a big success: Welfare rolls plummeted and millions of former aid recipients entered the labor force.

    The state and local bureaucracies that implement California's antipoverty programs, however, resisted pro-work reforms. In fact, California recipients of state aid receive a disproportionately large share of it in no-strings-attached cash disbursements. It's as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives.

    Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its "customer" base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.

    Further contributing to the poverty problem is California's housing crisis. More than four in 10 households spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2015. A shortage of available units has driven prices ever higher, far above income increases. And that shortage is a direct outgrowth of misguided policies.

    "Counties and local governments have imposed restrictive land-use regulations that drove up the price of land and dwellings," explains analyst Wendell Cox. "Middle-income households have been forced to accept lower standards of living while the less fortunate have been driven into poverty by the high cost of housing." The California Environmental Quality Act, passed in 1971, is one example; it can add $1 million to the cost of completing a housing development, says Todd Williams, an Oakland attorney who chairs the Wendel Rosen Black & Dean land-use group. CEQA costs have been known to shut down entire homebuilding projects. CEQA reform would help increase housing supply, but there's no real movement to change the law.

    Extensive environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions make energy more expensive, also hurting the poor. By some estimates, California energy costs are as much as 50% higher than the national average. Jonathan A. Lesser of Continental Economics, author of a 2015 Manhattan Institute study, "Less Carbon, Higher Prices," found that "in 2012, nearly 1 million California households faced … energy expenditures exceeding 10% of household income. In certain California counties, the rate of energy poverty was as high as 15% of all households." A Pacific Research Institute study by Wayne Winegarden found that the rate could exceed 17% of median income in some areas.

    Looking to help poor and low-income residents, California lawmakers recently passed a measure raising the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 an hour by 2022 — but a higher minimum wage will do nothing for the 60% of Californians who live in poverty and don't have jobs. And research indicates that it could cause many who do have jobs to lose them. A Harvard University study found evidence that "higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants" in the Bay Area, where more than a dozen cities and counties, including San Francisco, have changed their minimum-wage ordinances in the last five years. "Estimates suggest that a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14% increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating)," the report says. These restaurants are a significant source of employment for low-skilled and entry-level workers.

    Apparently content with futile poverty policies, Sacramento lawmakers can turn their attention to what historian Victor Davis Hanson aptly describes as a fixation on "remaking the world." The political class wants to build a costly and needless high-speed rail system; talks of secession from a United States presided over by Donald Trump; hired former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. to "resist" Trump's agenda; enacted the first state-level cap-and-trade regime; established California as a "sanctuary state" for illegal immigrants; banned plastic bags, threatening the jobs of thousands of workers involved in their manufacture; and is consumed by its dedication to "California values." All this only reinforces the rest of America's perception of an out-of-touch Left Coast, to the disservice of millions of Californians whose values are more traditional, including many of the state's poor residents.

    With a permanent majority in the state Senate and the Assembly, a prolonged dominance in the executive branch and a weak opposition, California Democrats have long been free to indulge blue-state ideology while paying little or no political price. The state's poverty problem is unlikely to improve while policymakers remain unwilling to unleash the engines of economic prosperity that drove California to its golden years.

    Kerry Jackson is the Pacific Research Institute's fellow in California studies. This essay was adapted from the winter issue of City Journal.

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  4. #1853
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    Trump’s ‘Fake News Awards’ could violate ethics rules
    Little is known about what the president intends to do Wednesday, but some experts aren't taking it lightly.

    01/15/2018 07:24 AM EST

    Every awards show has its critics, but President Donald Trump’s much ballyhooed “Fake News Awards” has drawn attention from a group beyond the usual peanut gallery: ethics experts who say the event could run afoul of White House rules and, depending on what exactly the president says during the proceedings, the First Amendment.

    The White House has not yet said what form the awards presentation, scheduled by Trump for Wednesday, may take. But Norman Eisen, the former special counsel for ethics for President Barack Obama, and Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, have both tweeted that if White House staff members were involved, they would be in violation of the executive branch’s Standards of Ethical Conduct, which ban employees from using their office for “the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”

    Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, agreed, telling POLITICO that there were plenty of valid reasons for executive branch employees to use their position to criticize private enterprises — if a bus company were violating federal safety regulations, for instance — but that helping put on an event to bash the media would not qualify.

    “There has to be a legitimate official government reason for the position you’re taking with the respect to the particular company,” Painter said. “But here the only reason is they don’t like the coverage of the president.”

    The president is not subject to the executive branch ethical standards, but all other White House staffers are. Ethics experts say that if the undertaking were carried out exclusively by political staff from the Trump campaign or the Republican National Committee — and not government employees in the White House — there would be no problem.

    The issue, Eisen said, is “if the president enlists others in government to use government time or government resources to attack certain media outlets, while implicitly preferring others.”

    The White House did not respond to questions asking whether any staff members would be involved. The Republican National Committee also did not respond to requests for comment.

    Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media and an assistant to the president, has tweeted that he has nothing to do with the awards, saying that “it’s from a campaign,” though it was not clear exactly what he was referring to.

    A Washington University School of Law ethics expert, Kathleen Clark, said that she agreed with Eisen and Shaub: Targeting specific news outlets by giving them “fake news awards” would represent a sort of “anti-endorsement,” she said, and would break the rules.

    Not all experts agreed that the awards would violate executive branch standards. Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School and an ethics expert, said that White House staff members would be breaking the rules only if they endorsed or criticized an enterprise that had nothing to do with their jobs.

    “Put me down as skeptical,” he said. “It’s got to be unrelated to the office. Criticizing the president’s critics strikes me as related to the office.

    It is not reasonable to fully separate politics from governing, he said, “so long as we assume staff can be used for some political purposes, so long as there is a White House communications office and a White House political office — we’ve crossed that line a long time ago.”

    Briffault said he did not see a particular difference between criticizing the media on Twitter or in an interview or briefing — as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders does on a nearly daily basis — and being involved in Trump’s awards.

    Eisen argued that if the president creates a whole show around bashing specific media outlets, “there is more formality to it.”

    “When you elevate it into a program,” he said, “it becomes harder and harder to say it’s just the president bloviating and it feels more and more like official government activity.”

    Federal officials who violate ethics rules can face discipline from their agencies, ranging from censure to suspension to dismissal. While the Office of Government Ethics sets forth the regulations and can urge the White House to act, it does not have the power to actually enforce them. That means that the White House, essentially, polices itself.

    Early in his administration, Trump outraged ethics experts by failing to seriously discipline Kellyanne Conway, his senior counselor, when she promoted his daughter’s clothing and jewelry line on “Fox & Friends” and told viewers, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff.”

    That case, unlike this one, Briffault said, was a clear violation, since Conway was using her position to promote a product line that has nothing to do with governing.

    But as Clark, the Washington University professor, said: “We’ve already seen that this White House, really, unlike its predecessors, does not impose significant discipline on those who violate the ethics rules in ways that the president approves of.”

    Eisen conceded that any action related to the “fake news awards” would be unlikely.

    “It’s ultimately tried in the court of the public opinion,” he said.

    Painter, the Bush ethics lawyer, said that he believed that First Amendment issues could be at stake, something more serious than the ethics rules. Problems could arise, he said, if Trump threatened any sort of action against media outlets he dislikes — as he has in the past — during the awards.

    “He has First Amendment rights himself, but he can’t use those to threaten newspapers with official action if they don’t do what he wants,” Painter said.

    Trump has mused on Twitter about whether NBC should lose its broadcasting license, and tied together the Washington Post’s coverage and tax policies related to Amazon, both owned by Jeff Bezos. Speculation has also swirled around whether the president’s animus toward CNN affected the Justice Department’s decision to oppose the merger between its parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T.

    Frederick Schauer, a First Amendment expert at the University of Virginia Law School, said that nothing about the awards themselves would cause First Amendment problems, but that trouble could arise if Trump used them as an occasion to issue legal threats.

    “The First Amendment’s speech and press clauses would be implicated if the administration threatened prosecution or other legal action, but not by mere differential criticism, condemnation, and praise,” he said in an email.

    Rebecca Tushnet, a First Amendment professor at Harvard Law School, said that any sort of threat — including those similar to the ones Trump has previously made — would be a problem.

    “Part of what the First Amendment is about is we want to avoid a chilling effect,” she said. “If NBC curtails its coverage as somebody reasonably might do after the president says he wants to go after you, he doesn’t actually have to do it to create the harm that the First Amendment is designed to combat. The threats themselves are problematic.”

    “I don’t know that you could succeed in court,” she continued. “But is it the kind of thing the First Amendment is concerned about? Obviously.”

    Even if nothing comes of these discussions, said Clark, they point to the bizarre nature of the “Fake News Awards” and the dangers of the president’s war on the press.

    “I think that the government ethics issue,” she said, “is, frankly, another hook for raising the issue of the more fundamental way the Trump administration is trying to undermine democracy by undermining the press.”

  5. #1854
    Verified VCDS User NZDubNurd's Avatar
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    Again, no political point here from me... just funny:

  6. #1855
    Administrator Andy's Avatar
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    Yesterday (1/15/18)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump often brags that he’s done more in his first year in office than any other president. That’s a spectacular stretch.

    But while he’s fallen short on many measures and has a strikingly thin legislative record, Trump has followed through on dozens of his campaign promises, overhauling the country’s tax system, changing the U.S. posture abroad and upending the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

    A year in, Trump is no closer to making Mexico pay for a border wall than when he made supporters swoon with that promise at those rollicking campaign rallies of 2016.

    He’s run into legislative roadblocks — from fellow Republicans, no less — at big moments, which is why the Obama-era health law survives, wounded but still insuring millions. His own administration’s sloppy start explains why none of the laws he pledged to sign in his first 100 days came to reality then and why most are still aspirational.

    Nevertheless, Trump has nailed the tax overhaul, his only historic legislative accomplishment to date, won confirmation of a conservative Supreme Court justice and other federal judges, and used his executive powers with vigor to slice regulations and pull the U.S. away from international accords he assailed as a candidate.

    Courts tied his most provocative actions on immigration and Muslim entry in knots, but illegal border crossings appear to be at historic lows.

    The upshot? For all his rogue tendencies, Trump has shaped up as a largely conventional Republican president when measured by his promises kept and in motion.

    The Twitter version of Trump may be jazzed with braggadocio about the size of his (nonexistent) nuclear button and his “very stable genius.” But the ledger of actions taken is recognizable to Washington: mainstream Republican tax cuts, pro-business policy (with exceptions on trade), curbs on environmental regulation and an approach to health care that’s been in the GOP playbook for years.

    That’s as of today and this moment. With Trump, you never know about tomorrow.

    A look at some of his campaign promises and what’s happened with them:


    Trump and congressional Republicans delivered on an overhaul that substantially lowers corporate taxes and cuts personal income taxes, as promised. It’s sizable but not everything Trump said it would be, and it is more tilted to the wealthy than he promised or will admit. He promised a 15 percent tax rate for corporations and settled for 21 percent, still a major drop from 35 percent. He promised three tax brackets; there are still seven. He did not eliminate the estate tax or the alternative minimum tax as he said he would. Fewer people will be subject to those taxes, however, at least temporarily.

    “Everybody is getting a tax cut, especially the middle class,” he said in the campaign. Most will; some will pay more.



    Trump made good on his promise to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement in search of a better deal.

    He’s let China off the hook, though, on his oft-repeated threat during the campaign to brand Beijing a currency manipulator, a step toward potentially hefty penalties on Chinese imports and a likely spark for a trade war.

    “We’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed,” he said of the trade relationship, which has tipped even more in China’s favor since. Trump now threatens trade punishment if China does not sufficiently cooperate in reining in North Korea.

    Trump promised to impose a 35 percent tariff on goods from U.S. companies that ship production abroad. He’s not delivered on that. Instead, his tax plan aims to encourage companies to stay in the U.S. with the lower tax rate and to entice those operating abroad to come home by letting them repatriate their profits in the U.S. at a temporarily discounted rate. His approach so far is all carrot, no stick.



    Candidate Trump rocked the political landscape when he proposed a temporary ban on all non-U.S. Muslims entering the country. While he’s long backed away from such talk, Trump has worked since his first days in office to impose new restrictions on tourists and immigrants, signing executive orders that would have made good on his anti-immigration promises had those orders not been blocked by courts.

    He’s now succeeded in banning the entry of citizens from several Muslim-majority countries and in severely curbing refugee admissions. He’s tried to deny certain federal money for cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

    Trump is now deep in negotiations over an immigration deal that could deliver on other promises, including money for the border wall with Mexico and overhauling the legal immigration system to make it harder for immigrants to sponsor their families. That’s in exchange for extending protections for hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the country illegally as children. They are protections he once slammed as an “illegal” amnesty and pledged to end.

    Mexico still isn’t ponying up money for the wall.



    Trump promised aggressive action on the energy front and has pursued that.

    He announced his intention to take the U.S. out of the Paris climate-change accord. He gave swift approval to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines stalled by President Barack Obama, moved to shrink protected national monument lands in Utah and Arizona, and acted to lift restrictions on mining coal and coastal drilling for oil and natural gas.

    A provision in the new tax law opens the long-protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

    As other countries turn harder toward green energy, Trump is making fossil fuels the centerpiece of his drive toward energy independence — a benchmark that Obama closed in on during an era of surging natural gas development.



    Probably nothing exemplifies frustrated ambition more than the Obama health law Republicans have been trying to dismantle ever since it was enacted in 2010. Trump has declared it dead many times — he just never got around to killing it.

    He made this overpromise in the campaign: “My first day in office, I’m going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law and replacing it with reforms that expand choice, freedom, affordability. You’re going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost. It’s going to be so easy.”

    That hasn’t happened.

    Republicans took several runs at repealing and replacing the law last year, only to fall short. The December tax law, though, is knocking out a pillar. As of 2019, the requirement to carry health insurance or pay a fine will be gone.

    Trump has come out with a proposed regulation to promote the sale of health plans across state lines. The goal is to make it easier for associations to sponsor plans that are cheaper than Affordable Care Act policies but don’t have to meet all consumer protection and benefit requirements of that law.

    Insurance industry groups, patient groups and some state regulators are wary of the idea and see little chance it can make more than a dent in the ranks of the uninsured (nearly 30 million). Easing restrictions on the sale of health insurance across state lines has been a longtime mainstream conservative goal.

    He also promised to authorize Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. It hasn’t been done.



    Trump promised swift victory over the Islamic State group. Over the past year, U.S. and coalition-backed local forces in Iraq and Syria did deal a crushing blow to IS, ousting the militants from most of the territory they once held. The success built on the strategy of the Obama administration to work with and through local forces. Trump did relax restrictions on the number of U.S. troops who could be deployed both to Iraq and Syria, and that aided the final push.

    U.S. commanders, however, stop short of saying IS is defeated, pointing to remaining militants and fighting in Syria. They also note the group has spawned affiliates in other countries, such as Afghanistan and Yemen, where they routinely attack U.S. forces and allies. While reeling as a territorial force, the IS group has inspired terrorist attacks in the West.

    The Pentagon has yet to see the massive increase in military spending that Trump has promised. That still might come, but the protracted struggle to pass a Pentagon budget of whatever size has hurt U.S. military readiness, defense officials say.

    More broadly, Trump’s “America First” ethic has been reflected in his pressure on member NATO countries to step up their own military spending, in his wariness of international accords and in the seeming drift from a diplomatic tradition of promoting U.S. democratic values abroad.

    Past presidents made common cause with authoritarian figures, and their promotion of values could be cursory. But Trump has lavished praise on select strongmen, from the Philippines to China to Russia and beyond.

    Despite railing against the Iran nuclear deal as a candidate, Trump has so far passed up opportunities to get the U.S. out of it. On the other hand, he rolled back part of Obama’s opening to Cuba. He also moved forward on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a goal that both parties have embraced in their platforms for decades but never acted on.



    Trump pledged a $1 trillion effort to rebuild the country’s airports, roads, bridges and other infrastructure. As with his tax plan, it’s shaping up to be less ambitious than promised, though it still might be significant. Placed behind the failed effort to repeal the health law and the successful one to cut taxes, infrastructure may or may not emerge as a proposal in coming weeks. Trump’s idea appears to involve using federal tax dollars to leverage state government and private spending, not to mount a New Deal-era explosion of federal projects.



    Having previously criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs as the “most corrupt,” Trump delivered on one campaign promise by signing legislation to make it easier for VA employees to be fired for misconduct.

    At least for now, its impact in bringing accountability to the department remains unclear. The pace of VA firings during Obama’s last budget year was higher than during Trump’s first, which covered the first nine months of his administration.

    Other Trump initiatives announced with fanfare in 2017 remain far from complete or have been limited because of questions about rising government costs: a multibillion-dollar overhaul of electronic medical records, expanded access to doctors to reduce wait times and a goal of hiring 1,000 additional mental health counselors in the first year. The VA has been clouded by a 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital in which employees manipulated records to hide appointment delays.


    ... AND MORE

    Despite his promises, Trump hasn’t pushed for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Congress members or worked to end birthright citizenship, and he hasn’t made good on his pledge to drop “dirty, rotten traitor” Bowe Bergdahl out of an airplane over Afghanistan without a parachute.

    Trump, who spends nearly every weekend golfing at one of his properties, most certainly hasn’t fulfilled his promise never to take a vacation while serving as president.

    Indeed, Trump has visited properties he owns nearly one of every three days he’s been in office, raising a tangle of ethical questions about whether he’s profiting from his presidency.



    Trump didn’t wait for his first 100 days to expire before boasting that his presidential achievements thus far surpassed anything in history, and he hasn’t let up since. He’s bragged of having signed more than 80 pieces of legislation into law, but there’s little of consequence in that pile.

    He’s signed laws naming federal buildings after people, appointing a Smithsonian Institution regent and other housekeeping steps that all presidents do but tend not to make a fuss about.

    In contrast, Obama signed an enormous stimulus package into law in his first month while also achieving a law expanding health care for children and other policy steps.

    Then there’s Franklin Roosevelt, credited by historians Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer with achieving “the most concentrated period of U.S. reform in U.S. history,” starting immediately with emergency legislation to stabilize the Depression-devastated banking system and setting in place the New Deal with 14 pieces of historic legislation in 100 days.


    Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.

  7. #1856
    NostraJackAss Jack@European_Parts's Avatar
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  8. #1857
    Verified VCDS User vreihen's Avatar
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    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice.....

    Japanese News Outlet Mistakenly Sends North Korean Missile Alert
    It's the second major North Korea false alarm in the last week.

    By Willa Frej
    01/16/2018 08:44 am ET Updated 1 day ago

    A Japanese broadcaster on Tuesday erroneously sent a mobile app alert announcing that North Korea had launched a missile.

    “North Korea likely to have launched missile. The government J alert: evacuate inside the building or underground,” warned the alert, sent by the broadcaster NHK.

    NHK issued an apology minutes later and said the alert had been sent by mistake.

    Residents of Hawaii received a similar alert on Saturday morning, also sent in error. A state Emergency Management Agency employee pressed the wrong button, sending people into a panic for 38 frantic minutes. The National Guard said Monday it plans to conduct a thorough review, and the employee responsible has been temporarily reassigned.

    North Korea’s neighbors have been on high alert in recent months as the rogue regime continues to test launch missiles. U.S. President Donald Trump has ratcheted up tensions, threatening a military response if the country continues to expand its nuclear arsenal.

    A handful of countries planned to meet Tuesday in Vancouver to discuss United Nations sanctions imposed on North Korea.

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