How the U.S. and North Korea could stumble into World War III

U.S. military officials increasingly worry that a mistake or miscommunication – even more than an intentional act of war – could start a nuclear conflict in Korea.

A North Korean provocation, a U.S. warning shot, malicious hackers or a simple accident could be the cause that starts a new war between two nations with a long history of tensions and suspicion.

"Miscalculation is now at a stage [that is] higher than probably any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis," former Obama administration Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said days after President Donald Trump boasted on Twitter that his nuclear button is “a much bigger & more powerful one” than Kim Jong Un’s.

These are some of the potential scenarios that most worry former nuclear commanders, policymakers and experts on Korea.

‘A pure accident’

A common fear of escalation is rooted in the oft-violent history of the Korean standoff, which Continue reading “How the U.S. and North Korea could stumble into World War III”

ACLU will represent U.S. citizen detained in Iraq

An American citizen being held by the U.S. military in Iraq without charges wants to challenge his detention in court, the American Civil Liberties Union announced today.

The ACLU, which will represent the detainee in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, spoke with the American citizen on Wednesday after the court ruled late last month that the detainee had the right to speak with a lawyer.

“The Trump administration illegally denied an American his rights to access a lawyer and a court for nearly four months, but those efforts have finally failed,” said ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz. “Now that our client has secured the judicial review that the government attempted to block, he looks forward to establishing the illegality of his detention.”

The U.S. military has been holding the citizen in Iraq since mid-September for allegedly fighting on behalf of the Islamic State, Continue reading “ACLU will represent U.S. citizen detained in Iraq”

Mattis: No plans to pause military exercises for Olympics in South Korea

The U.S. doesn’t plan to pause military exercises near the Korean Peninsula during the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday.

Pyeongchang will host the Olympics in February amid heightened tensions with North Korea, drawing international concern about safety at the games.

U.S. military exercises in the region often provoke North Korea, whose leaders see them as preparations for an invasion, despite the U.S. saying the regularly planned training exercises seek only to increase readiness. Earlier this month, North Korean state-run media said a joint exercise between the U.S. and South Korea was pushing the country “to the brink of nuclear war.”

South Korea is reportedly considering scrapping an exercise planned for the spring to lessen the chance of conflict at the Olympics. But Mattis said the U.S. will not change its exercise schedule because of diplomatic concerns, while leaving Continue reading “Mattis: No plans to pause military exercises for Olympics in South Korea”

Next battleground for Trump transgender ban: Recruiting stations

When Conner Callahan first tried to join the military he encountered widespread confusion among recruiters who didn’t know how to process a transgender volunteer.

“No one seemed to know what to tell me or what was happening,” recalled Callahan, a 29-year-old public safety officer in North Carolina. “I reached out to every branch, talked to different recruiters, and I heard everything from, ‘You can’t join,’ to ‘Maybe, we’ll have to see.’”

That was before President Donald Trump declared last summer he was barring all transgender personnel and issued orders to overturn the Obama-era decision allowing them to serve openly and the Pentagon to begin taking in new recruits in 2017.

But when Callahan tries again after New Year’s he should get a much different reception. The Pentagon is now under a court order to begin accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1. The deadline poses the biggest test yet for Continue reading “Next battleground for Trump transgender ban: Recruiting stations”

Next battleground for Trump transgender ban: Recruiting stations

When Conner Callahan first tried to join the military he encountered widespread confusion among recruiters who didn’t know how to process a transgender volunteer.

“No one seemed to know what to tell me or what was happening,” recalled Callahan, a 29-year-old public safety officer in North Carolina. “I reached out to every branch, talked to different recruiters, and I heard everything from, ‘You can’t join,’ to ‘Maybe, we’ll have to see.’”

That was before President Donald Trump declared last summer he was barring all transgender personnel and issued orders to overturn the Obama-era decision allowing them to serve openly and the Pentagon to begin taking in new recruits in 2017.

But when Callahan tries again after New Year’s he should get a much different reception. The Pentagon is now under a court order to begin accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1. The deadline poses the biggest test yet for Continue reading “Next battleground for Trump transgender ban: Recruiting stations”

Trump makes new moon landing official U.S. policy

Americans will head back to the moon under a new directive issued Monday by President Donald Trump as he takes another step toward re-energizing the nation’s space program.

The presidential directive, coming on the heels of a new White House space council headed by Vice President Mike Pence, instructs NASA to partner with commercial entities and international partners to return astronauts to the moon as a stepping stone for deeper space exploration to Mars and beyond.

“This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond,” Trump said in a signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

Space enthusiasts and industry leaders applauded as a way to expand crewed space missions the call for cooperation between the space agency and other government agencies and the growing Continue reading “Trump makes new moon landing official U.S. policy”

Court requires Pentagon to accept transgender recruits Jan. 1

A federal judge on Monday denied the Justice Department’s request to delay a Jan. 1 deadline to accept transgender military recruits — the latest action to stall President Donald Trump’s proposed ban.

The order from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia came after the Trump administration sought an emergency stay last week. The Pentagon had originally set the Jan. 1 deadline before Trump declared a ban on all transgender military personnel earlier this year.

The Pentagon sought the delay as it studies how to implement the president’s wishes. But the court wasn’t convinced the matter is so urgent.

"The Court notes that Defendants’ portrayal of their situation as an emergency is belied by their litigation tactics. The Court issued its preliminary injunction requiring Defendants to comply with the January 1, 2018 deadline on October 30, 201," Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her opinion. "Defendants Continue reading “Court requires Pentagon to accept transgender recruits Jan. 1”