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GENERAL DUNFORD SPEECH AT 9/11 ANNIVERSARY

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General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, made the following address at the Pentagon:

“Mr. President, Mrs. Trump, Secretary Mattis, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, and most importantly, to the family and friends of the fallen, and to those gathered here who survived the attack on the Pentagon, good morning.

It’s an honour to join you as we pause to reflect [on] all those who lost their lives on September 11,  2001. At this ceremony, we are particularly mindful of the 184 who died here in the halls of the Pentagon and aboard Flight 77.

16 years ago when terrorists attacked the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and as they attempted other attacks in Washington D.C., they did so with a sense of purpose. They were attacking symbols that reflect our way of life and our values. The terrorists believed that these attacks would shake our commitment to those values, and as President Bush said hours after the attacks, the terrorists thought they could frighten us into chaos and retreat – but they were wrong.

Instead of retreat, the tragedy of 9/11 produced in us an unyielding resolve. Instead of hopelessness,  our morning turned into action, and we have strengthened our commitment to the idea that the freedom of many should never be endangered by the hatred of a few.

So this morning, as we recall the events of 911, it’s appropriate for those of us still serving to remember and honour those who died, those who continue suffering from injuries, and those left behind.  But if we truly want to honour those remembered today, each of us will walk away from this ceremony with a renewed sense of commitment to our values and the cause of freedom. Each of us will walk away from this  simple ceremony reminded that the war is not over, and that further sacrifice will be required; and each  of us will walk away with resolve to strengthen our personal commitment to protect our family, friends,  and fellow citizens from another 9/11.”

NORTH KOREA TESTS HYDROGEN BOMB

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South Korean officials have confirmed that a blast at a North Korean nuclear testing site was caused by the detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

According to the South Korean newswire service, Yonhap, officials observed a 5.7 magnitude seismic event near the Punngye-ri nuclear testing site at about 12.30pm, local time. Tremors could even be felt in north east China.

North Korean state television announced the test to be ‘a perfect success’ and even published photographs of Kim Jong Un directing the test.  North Korea’s state newspaper, Rodogon Sinmun, reported on Sunday:

“All components of the H-bomb were homemade and all the processes ranging from the production  of weapons-grade nuclear materials to precision processing of components and their assembling  were put on the Juche basis, thus enabling the country to produce powerful nuclear weapons as  many as it wants.”

The United Nations has issued a statement, passed by all fifteen members, condemned North Korea and has accused them of “deliberately undermining regional peace and stability and [having] caused grave security concerns around the world.”

Donald Turk, President of the European Council, released a statement condemning North Korea:

“The EU stands ready to sharpen its policy of sanctions and invites North Korea to restart dialogue on its programmes without condition. We call on the UN Security Council to adopt  further U.N. sanctions and show stronger resolve to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of  the Korean peninsula.”

British Prime Minister, Teresa May, stated:

“The international community has universally condemned this test and must come together to continue  to increase the pressure on North Korea’s leaders to stop their destabilizing actions.”

French President, Emmanuel Macron, stated:

“The international community needs to deal with this latest provocation with the greatest firmness,  so that North Korea will restart dialogue without conditions and proceed with the complete,  verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.”

President Donald Trump tweeted:

“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

President Trump continued:

“North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”

US Defence Secretary, Jim Mattis, has met with President Trump and Vice President, Mike Pence, to discuss the situation. Outside the White House, Mattis made a brief statement:

“We have many military options, and the President wanted to be briefed on each of them.”

Mattis continued:

“We made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, South Korea and Japan, from any attack, and our commitments among our allies are ironclad. Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response – a response both effective and overwhelming.”

Mattis continued:

“Kim Jong-un should take heed the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members  unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses, and they remain unanimous in their commitment  to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, because we are not looking to the total  annihilation of a country, namely North Korea.”

Republican Senator from Missouri, Roy Blunt, told NBC’s Meet the Press that nearby countries should do everything in their power to force North Korea to ease tensions. According to Blunt, the rogue communist state has been a topic of discussion in Senate Intelligence Committee meetings. Blunt said:

“In the intel committee that I serve on, I think it doesn’t disclose anything to say in that in the last year this has probably been the number one topic month after month –  what was happening there, what are we going to do about it – and I hope the neighbourhood understands how critical this is.”

Blunt went on to refer to Kim Jong Un as “spoiled and reckless”:

“You’ve got a leader who is both spoiled and reckless. Spoiled and reckless is not a unique thing to find in the world today, but it is unique with somebody who has control of what may now be hydrogen weapons.”

The US is strongly considering issuing further trade sanctions to cut off North Korea. These sanctions may include Chinese banks and businesses doing trade with North Korea. US Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said in an interview on Fox News on Sunday:

“We are going to strongly consider everything at this point and, again, I will draft a package  for [President Trump’s’ strong consideration that would go as far as cutting off all trade and  other business.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP THREATENS NORTH KOREA

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Donald Trump has warned North Korea that it would be met with “fire and fury” if it continued its sabre-rattling. Trump stated:

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. As I said, I said  they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

North Korea has responded to Trump’s threat by threatening to strike the US military base in Guam.  Unsurprisingly, Trump’s warning has many people concerned that a potential standoff between the two countries may devolve into a war. According to a CNN poll, seventy-two percent of Americans feel uneasy about potential conflict with North Korea. Despite this, the same poll shows that sixty-percent of Americans feel North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons is a threat that needs to be contained.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has warned that a full-blown war with North Korea would be “catastrophic“, commenting that it would be “more serious in terms of human in terms of human suffering than anything we’ve seen since 1953.”

A war with North Korea is unlikely, however. President Trump would need to seek the approval of Congress before he could launch an attack on the rogue nation. As Republican Senator for Alaska, told Erin Burnett on Out Front:

“One of the options that they’re looking at that would eventually materialise is a preemptive war on the Korean Peninsular launched the US. Well, that would clearly in my view require the authorization from Congress.”

DONALD TRUMP SIGNALS A CHANGE TO US MILITARY TRANSGENDER POLICY

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On Wednesday, Donald Trump announced on Twitter that his administration would be reversing the previous Obama administration’s decision to allow transgender individuals into the US military:

 “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States  Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical cost and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.  Thank you.”

The decision has been met with negative reactions from both Democrats and from disgraced soldier Chelsea Manning (who was convicted of releasing classified documents to Wikileaks and received a pardon from Barack Obama, presumably because he was transgender). Californian Democrat Senator Kamala Harris referred to it as “discrimination, plain and simple”, whilst Manning tweeted:

“So, biggest, baddest, most $$ military on earth cries about a few trans people but funds the F-35? Sounds like cowardice”

In June, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis made the decision to delay the Obama administration’s decision by six months to give military service chiefs the chance to review whether allowing transgender people to enlist would affect the military’s capabilities.

The order to allow transgender people to serve openly in the US Military, undergo gender reassignment surgery (paid for by the military), and change their gender in Pentagon systems.  Under the decision, military service personnel could not be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied re-enlistment purely only the basis of their gender identity.