06 26 2016
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  • ST. LOUIS (AP) — A draft of the Democratic Party's policy positions reflects the influence of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign: endorsing steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocating a $15 hourly wage, urging an end to the death penalty. Hillary Clinton's supporters turned back efforts by Sanders' allies to promote a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system and a carbon tax to address climate change, and freeze hydraulic fracking. While the platform does not bind the Democratic nominee to the stated positions, it serves as a guidepost for the party moving forward. Party officials approved the draft early Saturday. The Democratic National Convention's full Platform Committee will discuss the draft at a meeting next month in Orlando, Florida, with a vote at the convention in Philadelphia in late July. Sanders said Friday he would vote for Clinton, the presumptive nominee, in the fall election, but so far has stopped short of fully endorsing the former secretary of state or encouraging his millions of voters to back her candidacy. The Vermont senator has said he wants the platform to reflect his goals — and those representing him at a St. Louis hotel said they had made progress. "We lost some but we won some," said James Zogby, a Sanders supporter on the committee. "We got some great stuff in the platform that has never been in there before." Added Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., a Sanders ally: "We've made some substantial moves forward." Deliberating late into Friday, the group considered language on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has divided Democrats. The committee defeated an amendment led by Zogby that would have called for providing Palestinians with "an end to occupation and illegal settlements" and urged an international effort to rebuild Gaza. The draft reflects Clinton's views and advocates working toward a "two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict" that guarantees Israel's security with recognized borders "and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity." In many cases, Clinton's side gave ground to Sanders. The document calls for the expansion of Social Security and says Americans should earn at least $15 an hour, referring to the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as a "starvation wage," a term often used by Sanders. Sanders has pushed for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Clinton has supported efforts to raise the minimum wage to that level but has said states and cities should raise the bar as high as possible. Sanders' allies wanted the draft to specify calls for a $15 per hour minimum wage indexed with inflation. Clinton's side struck down a direct link, noting the document elsewhere included a call to "raise and index the minimum wage." The committee also adopted language that said it supports ways to prevent banks from gambling with taxpayers' bank deposits, "including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall." Sanders wants to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking activities. Clinton does not, but says her proposed financial changes would cast a wider net by regulating the banking system. Also in the draft is a call for the abolition of the death penalty. Clinton said during a debate this year that capital punishment should only be used in limited cases involving "heinous crimes." Sanders said the government should not use it. Sanders, a vociferous opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was unable to get language into the document opposing the trade deal. As a result, the party avoided an awkward scenario that would have put the platform at odds with President Barack Obama. Clinton and Sanders have opposed the deal. Committee members backed a measure that said "there are a diversity of views in the party" on the pact and reaffirmed that Democrats contend any trade deal "must protect workers and the environment." In a setback for Sanders, the panel narrowly rejected amendments that would have imposed a tax on carbon and imposed a national freeze on fracking. The panel deliberated for about nine hours following several late nights and long hours of policy exchanges between the two campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. Sanders, in a statement, said he was "disappointed and dismayed" that the group voted down the measure opposing the TPP. But he was pleased with the proposals on Glass-Steagall and the death penalty — and vowed to fight on. "Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party," he said.
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Kim Jong Un
 

(CNN) -- North Korea threatened Tuesday to nullify the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953, citing U.S.-led international moves to impose new sanctions against it over its recent nuclear test, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

The North's military said it will also cut off direct phone links with South Korea at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom, Yonhap said, citing North Korea's news outlet.

North and South Korea have technically been at war for decades. The 1950-53 civil war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

A draft U.S. resolution to authorize more sanctions against North Korea in response to its controversial nuclear test was formally introduced Tuesday at the U.N. Security Council by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice.

No vote on the draft resolution is expected Tuesday. A senior Obama administration official earlier told CNN that the United States and China, a key North Korean ally, had reached a tentative deal on the wording of the proposed resolution.

The two nations have been negotiating for weeks on the question.

Asked about sanctions, China's envoy Li Baodong said: "It depends on the council members."

There has been major concern in recent years among world powers over North Korea's nuclear aspirations.

Pyongyang continues to make "belligerent and reckless moves that threaten the region, their neighbors and now, directly, the United States of America," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a CNN interview on Tuesday.

"It's very easy for Kim Jong Un to prove his good intent here also. Just don't fire the next missile. Don't have the next test. Just say you're ready to talk," said Kerry, speaking on the last full day of his first international trip as the nation's top diplomat. Kim is North Korea's leader.

Addressing reporters later in Qatar, Kerry again put the onus on Kim to act, sayin,g "The American people and the world" would like to see him "take responsible actions" for peace.

"Rather than threaten to abrogate and threaten to move in some new direction, the world would be better served" if Kim took some action to engage in legitimate dialogue, Kerry said.

"Our preference is not to brandish threats to each other. It's to get to the table" to negotiate, he said.

As a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power, China can strongly influence the body's decisions and has previously resisted strong sanctions on the Kim regime, which it props up economically.

The two communist countries have been close allies since China supported the North with materiel and troops in the Korean War. The United States backed the South in the conflict, fighting side by side with its troops.

Analysts say Beijing wants to maintain the North as a buffer between its border and South Korea, a U.S. ally.

Beijing's government on Tuesday said it strives for a "nuclear free peninsula." It repeated its support for the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of North Korea's nuclear tests but also called for a muted response to it.

'Paying the price'

Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, told CNN that while the resolution will probably not be too onerous, the fact that China went along with another U.N. sanctions measure against North Korea reflects the growing anger and disillusionment that Beijing feels toward its supposed ally.

"Kim Jong Un is now paying the price for going ahead with a nuclear test despite Chinese warnings not to create trouble during the political transition that has been under way in Beijing the past year," Fitzpatrick said.

"The real question, though, is the degree to which China will be willing to implement the U.N. sanctions and to impose punishment of its own.

"A sharp drop in Chinese grain sales to North Korea in January may be a sign that China's support for U.N. sanctions is more than just a symbolic punishment."

Fitzpatrick characterized North Korea's reported threat to nullify the 1953 armistice as "largely bluster," pointing out that North Korea has "broken the armistice many times, most recently in 2010 by sinking a South Korean corvette and shelling a South Korean-populated island."

But, he added, "the threat does point to more trouble to come from the recalcitrant hermit kingdom. Things are going to get worse before they get better."

Military exercises

Pyongyang said the underground nuclear blast it conducted on February 12 was more powerful than its two previous detonations and used a smaller, lighter device, suggesting advances in its weapons program.

It was the first nuclear test the isolated state has carried out since its young leader inherited power in December 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, who made building up North Korea's military strength the focus of his 17-year rule.

Like the regime's previous tests in 2006 and 2009, the move prompted widespread international condemnation, as well as a promise of tough action at the United Nations.

North Korea's government regularly rails against sanctions imposed on it.

The staging this week of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, known as Foal Eagle, has added to the simmering tensions, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Monday.

It described the training exercises as "an open declaration of a war" in the face of repeated warnings from the North that they should not be held.

The exercises have "touched off the pent-up resentment of the service personnel and people of (North Korea) and compelled them to harden their pledge to take thousand-fold retaliation against the enemies," the news agency said.

CNN's Elise Labott, Richard Roth, Anna Maja, Michael Pearson and Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

 

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