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North Korea Threatens "Quick, Overwhelming Action" Over US-South Korea Military Exercises
North Korea has warned the US and South Korea of taking “quick, overwhelming action” after a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber flew over the Korean Peninsula in a joint exercise with South Korean warplanes. Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said that the US and South Korea's military moves could force the country to do something, calling them “provocations”. Meanwhile, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry called the flyover a “reckless provocation”. The joint military exercises, which have been described as “provocations” by North Korea, were canceled or scaled back during previous diplomatic attempts and amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They have since ramped up. Last month, Kim Yo Jong said North Korea would turn the Pacific into a missile firing range. On Tuesday, she reiterated that North Korea would consider an attempt by the US to intercept one of its intercontinental ballistic missiles as a declaration of war.
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At least nine bills introduced in five states seek to strip power from democratically elected prosecutors who have enacted criminal justice reforms. These bills are part of a larger movement by more conservative legislatures to undermine progressive prosecutors in strongly liberal and Democratic cities and put power in the hands of Republicans holding statewide offices. Critics argue that state legislatures are abusing their statutory authority by trying to rip power away from prosecutors. The bills have sometimes come before reforms are even enacted. Republican lawmakers in Texas have introduced four bills that would prohibit prosecutors from declining to charge certain offenses or refusing to seek the death penalty in capital cases. In Georgia, one bill would make it easier to recall an elected prosecutor, while another would prohibit prosecutors from using blanket policy guidelines like ending cash bail for nonviolent offenses. The bills would apply to elected prosecutors across the state. Some bills have passed their state Houses, while others have not yet moved toward a vote.
The recent train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio involved the release of vinyl chloride, a chemical commonly used to make PVC plastics. Media coverage of the accident has been inaccurate and led to unnecessary fear among residents. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, vinyl chloride is only moderately hazardous, considerably less toxic than many common drugs and chemicals. The combustion products of vinyl chloride are dangerous, but there have been no reports of severe illness or death. The accident could have been much worse if the train had been carrying more toxic chemicals.
Senators Mark Warner (D-Va) and John Thune (R-SD) have introduced a bipartisan bill, the RESTRICT Act, that would give the Department of Commerce more power to review and prevent technology transactions that pose a risk, particularly those affiliated with China, including TikTok. The bill aims to create a process for screening companies from foreign adversaries and has gained strong bipartisan support. The House effort currently lacks bipartisan support and has been criticized by some for potentially stifling free speech. Critics are concerned that TikTok could put US customer data at risk due to China's law requiring companies to share information with the government, while TikTok denies this and says it operates independently and protects US data through an alliance with Oracle. The RESTRICT Act does not call companies out by name but includes different regions, meaning actions from Commerce empowered under this bill may impact technology from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela.
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