South Korean Lawmaker Accuses North Korea of Military Hacks
On Tuesday, Rhee Cheol-hee, a South Korean lawmaker, accused North Korea of stealing documents of US and South Korea military contingency plans in the event of war on the Korean Peninsula. The alleged hack occurred last year in September. Among the plans were procedures to assassinate the North Korean leader if war broke out.
Rhee Cheol-hee is a member of the South Korean Democratic party and part of the defense committee. He claims that 235 gigabytes of information was stolen from the Defence Integrated Data Center, though his allegations have yet to be confirmed by the United States or South Korean Defense Ministry. The Pentagon stated to reporters that, “we are confident in the security of our operations plans and our ability to deal with any threat from North Korea.” North Korea additionally denies responsibility for the hacks, saying Seoul was “fabricating” its claims of online attacks.
With tensions rising, the US organized a joint military exercise Wednesday morning, involving the US, South Korea, and Japan. Two B-1B combat bombers and two F-15L fighter jets flew over the Korean peninsula as an act of deterrence.
California Wildfires Engulf More Than 160,000 Acres
Twenty-two wildfires in California have rampaged across nearly the entire state this October, a month with ideal conditions for fires as it follows dry California summers. With 23 confirmed fatalities as of Wednesday night, these fires are the second-deadliest of this century.
Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for three counties, and police have closed major roads. More than 50,000 people have left their homes or been evacuated. California has also set up shelters throughout the state to house the evacuees.
Even those not displaced from their homes by the fires face the threat of air pollution. A spokesperson for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is reporting “the worst air quality ever recorded for smoke in many parts of the Bay Area,” and the agency has recommended residents stay indoors and wear masks, if available.
Over 4,000 local, state, and federal firefighters are currently working to contain the fires. However, strong winds and no rain have made progress difficult.
The cause of the fires is still unknown.
Trump Battles with Senator Bob Corker
This weekend, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and President Donald Trump sparred on Twitter. Corker announced on September 26th that he would not be seeking reelection, despite claims that Trump urged him to run. He has been in the Senate since 2007 and was under consideration to be Trump’s Secretary of State.
On Sunday morning, Trump released a series of tweets in which he attacked Corker, claiming, among other things, that the Senator was not running for reelection because Trump would not endorse him, that Corker was responsible for the “horrendous Iran Deal,” and that Trump passed over him for Secretary of State. Corker rebutted this in a New York Times article, claiming that Trump urged him to run and promised to endorse him if he did.
Corker responded with a tweet of his own, saying: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Four days before Trump’s attack, Corker claimed that Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “help separate our country from chaos.”
More Stories Emerge Following Weinstein’s Ouster
After reports emerged last week that Harvey Weinstein had engaged in sexual harassment for decades, the film producer and studio executive was fired from the Weinstein Company on Sunday. In a statement released on Thursday, Weinstein said that his behavior “with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.”
More details have since emerged, as The New Yorker released a story on Tuesday further chronicling Weinstein’s abuse and harassments. Despite widespread rumors within the industry, Weinstein was long able to keep allegations silent using nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats. The reports have led a growing number of women, including actresses and former employees of the Weinstein Company, to make their own stories public.
In addition to being an influential Hollywood figure, Weinstein is a prolific donor to the Democratic Party. Former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats have condemned Weinstein’s actions in the past several days.
In Other News…
President Trump tapped Kirstjen Nielsen as the new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Nielsen will bring her cybersecurity experience to the job previously held by Gen. John Kelly.
Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation that aimed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Steve Schewel and Farad Ali will face off in a runoff election on November 7th to decide Durham’s new mayor following Tuesday’s primary elections.
On Wednesday, Spanish President Rajoy announced he will give Catalonian separatist leaders five days to withdraw their declaration of independence.
For the first time in over 30 years, the US Men’s Soccer Team failed to qualify for the World Cup following losses to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night.
The U.S. House Intelligence Committee announced on Wednesday that they will make public the Facebook ads that were purchased by Russian-groups with the intent of influencing the 2016 presidential election.