Keeping up with the Trumps: rough reality for the Secret Service

But for the US Secret Service agents who protect them 24 hours a day, keeping up with the Trumps is a non-stop ordeal, physically and financially.


The president, his wife Melania, five children – and their children – live in multiple cities, and take their own business and vacation trips. The only common thread? Their convoys of large SUVs with tinted windows.

The entire security operation is hugely complicated by Trump himself, who takes pride in being unpredictable.

With such an unorthodox president, the bodyguard ranks have had to be beefed up to ensure his protection, said counter-terrorism expert James Reese.

“To do this job as well as they do, they need planned breaks so their situational awareness and alertness is always at the cutting edge,” Reese told AFP.

Related readingNew York, Washington and Florida 

Former president Barack Obama, his wife, and two daughters all lived in the White House in Washington.

Trump’s wife Melania has chosen to remain for now with their 11-year-old son Barron in their three-story gilded Fifth Avenue penthouse in New York. 

The Secret Service stands guard over the entire 68-story building, and also drives Barron to school and back every day.

Daughter Ivanka, 35, has relocated to Washington with her husband Jared Kushner and their three children. 

Both Ivanka and Kushner are senior aides to Trump. Their family lives in a mansion in the affluent Kalorama neighborhood, more than two miles (3.2 kilometers) from the White House.

Related reading

They receive a 24-hour guard and a motorcade whenever the power couple heads to work.

Trump’s grown sons Eric and Don Jr, who have taken control of the family’s real estate empire, also get constant protection. That includes an escort of beefy guards wearing dark glasses and earpieces whenever they travel to Trump properties in distant lands.

His daughter Tiffany also has a security detail.

WATCH: Trump praises Afghanistan bomb strike 

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Caribbean, Dubai, Ireland 

The costs are substantial. A simple trip Eric made to Uruguay in January cost American taxpayers $100,000.

In February, the two brothers travelled to Vancouver to inaugurate a new hotel, accompanied by their spouses and sister Tiffany. They went to Dubai to open a golf course. Before that, Eric visited a tourist project in the Dominican Republic.

And last month Don, Eric and Ivanka took their families to the Rocky Mountain resort of Aspen, Colorado for a ski break, dragging along a brigade of no less than 100 security minders.

According to the Aspen Times, the Secret Service spent $12,000 just renting their own ski equipment in order to keep up with the family on the powdery slopes.

WATCH: Trump’s Road To The White House

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In the most recent trip, Eric headed to Dublin this week. According to CBS television, the Secret Service spent $4,030 for limousines and $11,261 for hotel rooms.

The agency has had to beef up the number of agents assigned to the president and his family by 40 percent, according to The New York Times. 

“They are flat-out worn out,” Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House government oversight committee, told the Times.

Mar-a-Lago vs. Camp David 

The Secret Service is asking for an extra $60 million for the coming year for the extra cost of protecting the Trumps, The Washington Post reported.

That will go towards things like renting their own work space in Trump Tower, and renting golf carts to use for patrols whenever Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago – which so far has meant most weekends.

In this April 3, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida (AAP)AAP

Trump’s country club in Palm Beach, built in the 1920s, is a security nightmare, sandwiched between the ocean and an inlet, serviced by one road that frequently gets jammed with traffic. 

That means a larger Secret Service detachment, bolstered by the local police, and Coast Guard patrols offshore on both sides.

“The major challenge is the size of the complex,” said Reese. “It was not built to the standards that are used to protect” presidents.

But Trump prefers that to the traditional presidential getaway, isolated Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains of northern Maryland, a short helicopter hop from the White House.

“The presidential retreat in Camp David is remote and much easier to defend than a publicly accessible facility in the heart of Palm Beach,” said Douglas Smith, former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

The government has not revealed how much all this is costing, but it is certainly considerable. One trip to Palm Beach in 2013 by Obama cost $3 million.

But Reese counsels against comparisons. The budget “is always changing and the Secret Service must be fluid and flexible with a president who is rewriting the rules day to day,” he said.

More than 2,000 migrants rescued from Mediterranean Sea

More than 2,000 migrants trying to reach Europe have been plucked from the Mediterranean in a series of dramatic rescues and one person was found dead, officials and witnesses said.


An Italian coast guard spokesman said 19 rescue operations on Friday by the coast guard or ships operated by non-governmental organisations had saved a total of 2,074 migrants on 16 rubber dinghies and three small wooden boats.


The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a tweet that one teenager was found dead in a rubber boat whose passengers were rescued by its ship Aquarius.

“The sea continues to be a graveyard,” MSF said in a tweet.

The coast guard spokesman confirmed that one person had died but gave no details.

MSF said two of their ships, Aquarius and Prudence, had rescued about 1,000 people in nine boats.

Desperate refugees struggled to stay afloat after they slid off their rubber boat during a rescue operation by the Phoenix, a ship of the rescue group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).

Video footage showed rescuers jumping into the water off the coast of Libya to help them.

More than 2,000 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea.AP

“In 19 years of covering the migration story, I have never experienced anything like today,” said Reuters photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi, who was aboard the Phoenix.

In one operation, the Phoenix rescued 134 people, all from sub-Saharan counties, he said.

Those rescued by the MOAS and MSF ships were transferred to Italian coast guard ships, which had rescued other migrants, to be taken to Italian ports.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, nearly 32,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year. More than 650 have died or are missing.

Watch: Migrant ‘shame’ in Pope’s Easter message

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Egyptian Copts celebrate Easter mass despite attacks

Egyptian Copts are celebrating Easter mass, marking one of Christianity’s most joyous occasions just days after the deadliest attacks in living memory against the country’s religious minority.


The faithful have been forced to spend a large part of Easter going through arduous security checks outside places of worship, after twin Palm Sunday bombings killed 45 people in two cities north of Cairo. 

The government has declared a state of emergency and called in the army to protect “vital” installations following the suicide bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

“Security has indeed improved so much as it seems the situation needed to be tightened up a lot,” said Coptic Church spokesman Boulos Halim.

Watch: Coptic church in Egypt bombed

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Coptic Pope Tawadros II led Easter mass in Cairo’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral, while the church said celebrations this year would be scaled back.

“Tanta and Alexandria created a big shock, for all of Egypt,” Halim said.

Easter, which along with Christmas is one of Christianity’s most important events, marks the resurrection of Christ three days after followers believe he was crucified.

In Egypt, Copts break a 55-day fast abstaining from all animal products following Saturday’s mass.

The Sunday bombings were the latest in a series of attacks against Egypt’s Copts, which make up around 10 percent of the population. 

In December, an IS suicide bomber struck a Cairo church, killing 29 people.

Halim said the church will forgo Sunday morning’s traditional celebrations, and instead members will visit the families of “martyrs” as well as those wounded in the blasts, including police officers.

“Even if we are in pain over them parting their bodies… the happiness of resurrection helps us overcome feelings of pain,” said Halim.

Further attacks feared

IS, which has waged an insurgency in the north of the Sinai Peninsula that has seen scores of attacks on security forces, has issued repeated calls for atrocities against Copts.

One Copt who gave his name only as John said he will attend Easter mass despite the heightened security risk.

He plans to go to a church in the relative safety of the capital, but admitted “if I were somewhere else outside of Cairo, like a village, I would not want my relatives to go and I would be worried about attending”.

Watch: State of emergency declared in Egypt after bombings

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In a village south of Cairo, some Christians were reportedly prevented from holding Good Friday prayers, and police deployed to prevent further unrest.

Christians in Koum el-Loufy were attacked by Muslims after they tried to pray in an abandoned home on Thursday, after which a mob set fire to four homes nearby, according to police officials.

While the village boasts several mosques, Christians there have been prevented from building a church, Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights told AFP.

“Probably they won’t be able to pray on Saturday either,” said Ibrahim.

“There is a general climate where Copts are being persecuted and unfortunately the state just tries to stop violence from spreading, they don’t solve the root cause of the problem.”


UN in talks on withdrawing Congo peacekeepers from Central Africa

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said he was in talks with authorities in Congo Republic on the fate of its troops who are facing accusations of misconduct while serving as peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.


UN officials told AFP that the 629 troops serving in the MINUSCA force will be withdrawn as a result of the allegations of sex abuse, corruption and poor discipline.

Guterres was to announce the withdrawal during a press conference on Tuesday, but discussions were continuing with the government in Brazzaville, delaying the announcement.

The UN chief said he was engaged in “necessary contact with the authorities of the country before a public announcement of the measure.”

The decision follows a report by the UN commander of the MINUSCA force who warned that Brazzaville should either take steps to rein in the troops or be forced to repatriate them.

Lieutenant General Balla Keita of Senegal told UN headquarters that he had sent six letters of blame to the battalion commander already this year over alleged sexual abuse, fuel trafficking and lack of discipline.

The 629 peacekeepers deployed in Berberati, the country’s third-largest city, are Brazzaville’s only contribution to UN peacekeeping.

0:00 UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie slams peacekeepers over abuse Share UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie slams peacekeepers over abuse

Last year, 120 troops from the same contingent were sent back following allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA) involving at least seven victims, six of whom were children.

Following a MINUSCA assessment of the Berberati base in March, Keita said there had been “no improvements in the behaviour of the Congolese battalion.”

“The battalion is notorious for SEA misconducts, fuel trafficking and poor discipline,” Keita wrote in a memo sent last month.

The memo and a 66-page UN assessment of the Congolese troops were released by the Code Blue Campaign of non-governmental organisations seeking to expose cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers.

Code Blue on Tuesday welcomed the decision to withdraw the Congolese troops.

“Your action will ensure that vulnerable women and children in Berberati will be safe from further predation by that particular battalion of severely undisciplined, unfit military personnel sent to the embattled country by the UN,” the coalition said.

With AFP


Europe’s top rights court blasts Russian ‘gay propaganda’ law

The ruling was welcomed by gay activists in Russia who had lodged the case, but Moscow said it would appeal.


The legislation had made “promoting non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors an offence punishable by a fine.

It was also an offence to say that gay relationships were equal to heterosexual ones.

The Strasbourg-based court said the Russian laws “reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia,” which was “incompatible with the values of a democratic society”.  

Although homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, prejudice is common and human rights activists allege widespread abuse. 

Three gay activists — Nikolay Bayev, Aleksey Kiselev and Nikolay Alexeyev — had staged protests outside a school, a children’s library and a government building holding banners that said homosexuality was not a perversion.

They were subsequently fined and appealed against the ruling in Russian courts. But their complaints — right up to the Constitutional Court — were unsuccessful. 

The Constitutional Court had said the ban was justified on the grounds of protection of morals and spoke of the potential dangers of “creating a distorted impression of the social equivalence of traditional and non-traditional marital relations”.

Related reading’These laws must be abolished’

The trio then filed applications with the European rights court in 2009 and 2012.

The Strasbourg court said the fines imposed on them breached articles in the European Convention of Human Rights regarding freedom of expression and discrimination.

It bordered Russia to pay 8,000 euros ($8,900) in damages to Bayev, 15,000 euros to Kiselev and 20,000 euros to Alexeyev.

Russia’s justice ministry said it would appeal, and was “preparing legal arguments explaining Russia’s position.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reacted to the ruling saying people were not legally pursued because of their sexual orientation, including the LGBT community.

“The only thing that we don’t want, is that someone imposes this orientation on Russian citizens who are minors,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

Alexeyev, who runs the GayRussia website, told AFP: “This is an enormous legal victory for the LGBT in Russia. The ruling is yet one more proof that LGBT activists are discriminated in Russia and their rights are violated.  

“These discriminatory laws now must be abolished,” he said in a statement, adding that they had no place “in a free, civilised and democratic and country in the 21st century”.  

Under the various Russian laws, if individuals use media or the internet for homosexual “propaganda” they can be fined up to 100,000 rubles ($3,000). Organisations can be fined up to one million rubles and risk being closed down for up to 90 days.

Foreign nationals who use media or the internet for propaganda can be fined up to 100,000 rubles, detained for up to 15 days and deported.

Related reading

Another law makes “public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed to the goal of offending religious feelings of the faithful” punishable with up to a year in jail and fines of up to 300,000 rubles.

The same actions committed in places of worship are punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 500,000 rubles.

The ruling dismissed Russia’s defence that it was defending traditional values, said a statement from the court.

People had the right to “openly identify themselves as gay, lesbian or any other sexual minority, and to promote their own rights and freedoms,” it said.

The ruling also rejected Moscow’s claims that minors risked being swayed by others into becoming homosexual. Russia had provided no “science-based evidence” to support the claim, said the ruling.

Homosexuality was considered a crime in Russia until 1993 and categorised as a mental illness until 1999.

Heat not a worry for Suns star Ablett

Despite being battered and bashed by any Carlton player who came anywhere near him last weekend, Gold Coast midfielder Gary Ablett says he’s happy with the level of protection he’s receiving from his AFL teammates.


Ablett endured a physical night in the 10-point loss to the Blues at Metricon Stadium, picking up 25 disposals but struggling to make his usual impact on the match as Ed Curnow in particular targeted the dual Brownlow Medallist.

The 33-year-old says there’s no doubt he pulled up sore from the match, but doesn’t believe his Suns’ teammates left him exposed.

“I knew early in the game that their focus was to try and limit my impact … I felt my teammates went out of their way to put a block on for me whenever they could,” Ablett said.

“They’ve obviously got a role to play as well and they need to focus on that.

“They did speak about after the game that if it was to happen again they would put more blocks on, so looking forward to that.”

Ablett says the best thing the Suns can do is fight fire with fire, applying the blowtorch to a key member of their opposition.

He says that was something the Suns failed to do against Carlton as Bryce Gibbs, Kade Simpson and Sam Docherty enjoyed plenty of the freedom to steer the visitors to victory.

“I’ve got no doubt we’ll have a target player this week,” he said.

“We probably did that earlier in the season and went away from it a little bit, I’m not sure why.

“We will target a player for them, I won’t tell you who that will be, but we’ll be making sure that they have a tough day.”

Smith to settle Qld Origin rookies’ nerves

Nothing will prepare Queensland’s four rookies for their State of Origin debut, Cameron Smith admits.


But the Maroons captain says he will have a quiet word to settle them before Queensland looks to keep the series alive in Wednesday night’s Origin II in Sydney.

“I don’t think the amount of work that you can do on the field or even watching State of Origin can prepare you mentally for the game,” Smith said.

“You ask any debutant after they’ve played their first game and they say they couldn’t believe how fast it was, how physical it was and how much intensity it is played at for the entire match.

“You can see in the body language when they’re about to run out onto the field what they’re feeling.

“Most games that I play in I usually have a quick little chat before we run out just to make sure that everyone’s ready to go.

“I just want to make sure that their head space is right.”

Maroons selectors wielded the axe following Queensland’s record 28-4 game one loss in Brisbane, making seven changes – the biggest team shake up in 12 years.

Queensland now find themselves in the situation where they must blunt an unchanged, rampaging Blues pack with rookie Jarrod Wallace as starting prop and fellow debutant forwards Coen Hess and bolter Tim Glasby off the bench.

The Maroons starting front row has just one game’s experience after prop Dylan Napa made his debut in Origin I.

Smith said he backed them to make the step up for Queensland but would pull them aside ahead of Origin II just to ensure they were focused on the mighty task at hand.

“They’re all very good footballers in their own right,” he said.

“I just want to make sure that their mental preparation is right for the game.

“This is going to be the biggest game they’ve played in their entire career so there’s a lot of preparation that you need to do in your head to be ready for what’s coming.”

Qld dynasty once in a lifetime: Walters

Queensland coach Kevin Walters has hardly put up the white flag ahead of Wednesday night’s must win State of Origin game two in Sydney but even he admits Queensland’s decade of Origin dominance can’t last.


In his second year at the helm, Walters is under the pump after Queensland’s record 28-4 game one loss in Brisbane.

Walters is confident the Maroons can bounce back following the return of playmaker Johnathan Thurston from injury and fullback Billy Slater, who was controversially overlooked for Origin I.

However, he made it clear to Maroons fans what Queensland had achieved recently is unprecedented.

“We are realists up in Queensland,” Walters said.

“We understand what happened previously at this level is a once in a lifetime event.

“I remember way back when it first started with (Maroons coach) Mal Meninga (in 2006).

“Winning one game was a big challenge, winning a series was a great achievement.”

Walters took over the Maroons reins last year after Meninga claimed nine of 10 series in charge, including a record eight straight.

He won his first Origin series on debut but Walters tried not to talk up expectations of another dynasty ahead of game two.

“We are still in the ball game. We are confident we will put in a good performance that will keep us alive,” he said of game two.

“I am not saying anything is over at the moment.

“Queensland loves winning Origin games, that’s what tomorrow night is all about – getting that elusive win.”

Walters will need to be at his best if the Maroons are to nail yet another series.

The last time the Maroons won in Sydney and Brisbane to win a series after losing the home opener was back in 1987.

Australia Day: Local councils push for date change debate

Local councils are pushing for the federal government to change the date of Australia Day.


A national meeting of representatives from 560 local councils has backed a plan to come up with ideas on ways to lobby the commonwealth to switch Australia Day from January 26, a date that marks the arrival of the first fleet from England.

The Australian Local Government Association said its board would consider what action to take at a meeting in July.

“The ALGA board noted the level of debate and the closeness of the result of the debate and will take these matters into consideration when determining a course of action,” the association said in a statement.

Related reading

In a close 64-62 vote on Tuesday, council representatives at the annual National General Assembly of the ALGA in Canberra voted to back a motion by Hobart City Council for councils to consider efforts they could take to lobby the government for a date change.

The vote came ahead of a planned address by Australia Day Council chairman Ben Roberts-Smith to delegates on the final day of the assembly on Wednesday.

Hobart City Council has been at the forefront of growing calls for Australia Day to be changed from January 26, a date many indigenous people regard as “Invasion Day”.

0:00 Fremantle hosts alternative Australia Day Share Fremantle hosts alternative Australia Day

Hobart’s councillors in April voted in favour of lobbying the federal government to find a new date and said they would consult with the local Aboriginal community to find an alternative date.

Across the country in Perth, the City of Fremantle moved some of its Australia Day events to January 28 this year, citing cultural sensitivities and calls from local Aboriginal elders that January 26 was not a day to celebrate.

However the growing calls for change could face stiff opposition by federal politicians.

Greens senator Rachel Siewart failed in her bid in February to get the Senate to support a date change, with Liberal, Labor and cross bench senators voting against a motion acknowledging January 26 as a day of mourning for many indigenous people as it represented the start of colonisation.

Thousands of indigenous Australians and their supporters marked Australia Day this year by marching in protests in major cities, calling for the date to be changed.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that while everyone is entitled to debate the date of Australia Day, the government does not support a change.

EU Barnier assures of Brexit compromises

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has assured Britons he expects to compromise at times over the coming months as London and Brussels try to settle terms for British withdrawal from the European Union.


Asked to clarify a remark he made after Monday’s opening of talks about not making concessions to Britain, he played it down as a statement of the obvious not to concede arguments at the outset and all the more so because his meeting with Britain’s David Davis in Brussels did not launch talks on substance.

“My mandate is to defend the single market, defend the European Union, which the United Kingdom has decided to leave,” Barnier told reporters after briefing ministers from EU member states in Luxembourg. “I’m well aware that throughout the process there will be points of compromise.”

The Union wanted a “fair deal”, he said, renewing a vow not to punish Britain or take “revenge” for a withdrawal that has rocked the bloc and poses huge challenges for negotiators.

EU officials and diplomats greeted the agreement of Brexit Secretary Davis to a format and sequencing of talks that had been proposed by Barnier as sign that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s weakened and potentially divided government was bending to Brussels’ insistence on how negotiations will work.

“A very good day — for us,” one senior EU figure said with a note of triumph after discussions finally began, nearly a year after the Brexit vote and with only 21 months to reach a deal.

In public, EU negotiators have kept their satisfaction in check, however, and Barnier was at pains to sound conciliatory.

But in Britain many media portrayed Davis, a veteran Brexit campaigner, as having climbed down from his insistence that the EU must immediately open talks on a future free trade agreement rather than limit negotiations, as they are now, to basic issues of the divorce, such as the rights of expatriate citizens.

Germany’s Europe minister, Michael Roth, said in Luxembourg that the opening of the negotiations had shown British leaders still needed a “reality check” on what they could achieve.

Barnier made clear on Tuesday that while there must be a first phase that excludes trade discussions, he does hope that four weeks of monthly negotiating sessions can get him to the point where he can ask EU leaders in October to let him move on and discuss how the two sides can keep commerce open from 2019.

At the same time, while it was a priority, he said, to show progress in averting difficulties for troubled Northern Ireland as a result of being on a new EU-UK border, agreement on how the border would work would depend on wider future trade ties.

China tried but failed on N. Korea: Trump

President Donald Trump says Chinese efforts to persuade North Korea to rein in its nuclear program have failed, ratcheting up the rhetoric over the death of an American student who had been detained by Pyongyang.


Trump had held high hopes for greater cooperation from China to exert influence over North Korea, leaning heavily on Chinese President Xi Jinping for his assistance.

The two leaders had a high-profile summit in Florida in April and Trump has frequently praised Xi and resisted criticising Chinese trade practices.

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” Trump wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

It was unclear whether his remark represented a significant shift in his thinking in the US struggle to stop North Korea’s nuclear program and its test launching of missiles or a change in US policy toward China.

But it was likely to increase pressure on Beijing ahead of a US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue on Wednesday.

The talks will pair US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and General Fang Fenghui, chief of state of the People’s Liberation Army.

The State Department says the dialogue will focus on ways to increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs, but also cover such areas as counter-terrorism and territorial rivalries in the strategic South China Sea.

In a sign that US-Chinese relations remain stable, a White House aide said Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, were invited by the Beijing government to visit China later this year.

Trump has hardened his rhetoric against North Korea following the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who died on Monday in the United States after returning from captivity in North Korea in a coma.

In a White House meeting with visiting Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Trump criticised the way Warmbier’s case was handled in the year since his arrest, appearing to assail both North Korea and his predecessor, US President Barack Obama.

“What happened to Otto is a disgrace. And I spoke with his family. His family is incredible … but he should have been brought home a long time ago,” Trump said.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had limited options to rein in North Korea without Chinese assistance.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is less likely following Warmbier’s death.

Spicer said Trump would be willing to meet Kim under the right conditions, but that, “clearly we’re moving further away, not closer to those conditions”.

S.Korea’s Moon asks north to free captives

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says North Korea should swiftly return South Koreans and Americans detained in the reclusive nation and that Pyongyang has “a heavy responsibility” in the death of a US university student.


Moon, who is scheduled to visit Washington next week, also said in an interview with CBS on Tuesday he hoped to draw North Korea into negotiations on its nuclear program by the end of the year.

Dozens of North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the beginning of last year have heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang has vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

Moon’s remarks on CBS’s This Morning program came the day after the death of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old student who had been held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months. Warmbier died at a Cincinnati hospital just days after North Korea released him from captivity in a coma, his family said.

Warmbier was arrested while visiting as a tourist and accused of trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan, according to North Korean media. Doctors caring for him last week described him as having extensive brain damage that left him in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness”.

Moon said that while “we cannot know for sure that North Korea killed Mr Warmbier … I believe it is quite clear that they have a heavy responsibility in the process that led to Mr Warmbier’s death.

“I believe we must now have the perception that North Korea is an irrational regime,” said Moon, who was elected in May.

South Korea’s Blue House on Tuesday cited Moon separately as saying: “It is very deplorable that North Korea does not respect human rights.”

North Korea has detained two Korean-American academics and a missionary, a Canadian pastor and three South Korean nationals who were doing missionary work there.

US President Donald Trump blamed the “brutality of the North Korean regime” for Warmbier’s death.

North Korea said last month that it was its sovereign right to “ruthlessly punish” US citizens it had detained for crimes against the state.

Asked about the possibility of any pre-emptive strikes against Pyongyang, Moon told CBS that the issue could be raised at his summit with Trump but that such discussions were more likely to come later.

Moon, who was elected on a plan to engage in talks with North Korea, said he agreed with Trump on being willing to participate in a dialogue with North Korea under certain conditions.

New York outlaws child marriage under 17

Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed legislation raising the age of consent to marry from 14 to 18 years old, with a caveat that 17-year-olds wishing to marry must get approval from their parents and a judge.


“This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages, and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all,” he said.

This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 20, 2017

Until Tuesday, children as young as 14 could get married with parental permission and written consent from a judge. More than 3,800 minors were married in New York between 2000 and 2010, Cuomo’s office said.

Those under 17 are now prohibited from marriage. Judges must ensure any 17-year-olds wishing to wed are not being coerced against their will and that the marriage will not endanger their mental, emotional, or physical well-being.

Heather Barr, senior researcher on women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, called on dozens of other US states to follow New York’s example.

“Around the world, a girl under age 18 married every two seconds. It is a national shame that so many of these marriages are happening in the US,” she said.

“We hope the 47 states that have yet to act will follow New York’s lead.”

Nearly a quarter of a million children as young as 12 were married in the United States between 2000 and 2010, mostly girls to adult men, according to Unchained, a non-profit organization working against arranged or forced marriage.

A survey published by the Tahirih Justice Center in 2011 said forced marriage existed in immigrant communities from 56 different countries and affects people of different faiths, including Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.

Cuomo’s office said young women who marry before 19 are 50 percent more likely to drop out of high school and four times less likely to graduate from college.

Those who marry young are also at increased risk of developing health disorders, 31 percent more likely to live in poverty when older and three times more likely to be beaten by their spouses than women who wed at 21 or older, it said.

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