WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday voiced a rare note of optimism in the North Korea nuclear crisis, saying ruler Kim Jong Un may be showing signs of restraint that could lead to dialogue.

Tillerson noted that North Korea had not launched a ballistic missile nor done other “provocative acts” since the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Aug. 5 to impose blistering economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

“I’m pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we’ve not seen in the past,” Tillerson said in a briefing with reporters at the State Department convened primarily to discuss the Trump administration’s plans for Afghanistan.

He expressed hope that such restraint was “the beginning of this signal that we’ve been looking for.”

—Tribune Washington Bureau


Black college meeting is on, White House says

WASHINGTON — The White House will not postpone a conference on historically black colleges next month, rejecting calls from African-American lawmakers who said President Donald Trump should shelve the event after his comments about the fatal protest in Charlottesville, Va.

The Sept. 17-19 conference will go on as scheduled, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, director for communications for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, said Tuesday.

“President Trump’s commitment to the HBCU community remains strong and unwavering,” Manigault-Newman said in a statement to McClatchy. “Registration is currently at capacity and we are looking forward to welcoming HBCU presidents, students and guests.”

In addition, Manigault-Newman said administration officials will make an announcement regarding the naming of an executive director for Trump’s HBCU Initiative.

Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., the first African-American lawmaker to call for Trump to postpone the conference, was still wary. The White House did not respond to her Aug. 1 letter seeking an update on Trump’s initiative. Nor did it get back to her after the president said “there’s blame on both sides” for the deadly Aug. 12 Charlottesville rally that was dominated by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

—McClatchy Washington Bureau


Judge agrees to delay Cosby retrial into 2018

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday agreed to delay Bill Cosby’s retrial until early 2018, acting on a request from the entertainer’s new defense team.

Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill didn’t set a date but told the lawyers that he’ll “loosely fix” the retrial for mid-March or early April, rather than begin on Nov. 6 as planned.

The order came at the end of a hearing in Norristown in which the judge allowed Cosby’s previous lawyers to withdraw from the case and met with his new defense team.

“They are entering their appearance today, and to ask someone to review this voluminous record … it just cannot be done,” O’Neill said as he granted the request to delay the retrial.

Led by Tom Mesereau, the new lawyers also said they would not ask the court to go through the same complicated jury selection process that in the spring led to 18 jurors being chosen in Pittsburgh, then bused and sequestered in Norristown for the two-week trial. Instead, jurors will come from Montgomery County.

“Our strong inclination is to try the case right here in this county,” Mesereau told the judge .

After the hearing, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said he was disappointed the retrial would be delayed.

—The Philadelphia Inquirer


US citizens warned about traveling to Mexico’s Cancun and Los Cabos

MEXICO CITY — The U.S. State Department has warned its citizens about traveling to Cancun and Los Cabos, two of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, after a spike in violence in those regions.

A travel advisory issued Tuesday upgraded the warnings for two states, Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, saying turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in shootings in which innocent bystanders have been killed.

For years, both regions were largely spared the drug war violence that has engulfed other parts of Mexico, but this year they have seen a major uptick in killings.

There have been deadly gun battles in downtown Cancun, and in January, five people were killed at a nightclub in nearby Playa del Carmen. In Los Cabos, three people were shot to death this month at the entrance to a popular beach.

The travel warning is a major hit to Mexico’s $20 billion-a-year tourism industry, of which the regions surrounding Cancun and Los Cabos are crown jewels.

—Los Angeles Times


In India, you can no longer divorce a woman simply by saying (or texting) it three times

NEW DELHI — India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday banned a rare form of instant divorce sanctioned in its most conservative Muslim communities, saying men could no longer dissolve a marriage simply by stating it three times.

The controversial practice known as instant triple talaq — in which a man tells a woman “I divorce you” three times in succession — is observed in only a handful of countries, including Saudi Arabia.

By a 3-2 judgment, India’s highest court said the practice was un-Islamic and violated India’s constitution, and ordered Parliament to pass a law on the issue within six months.

The decision was hailed as a victory for women’s rights advocates led by Shayara Bano, who filed suit in 2016 after her husband ended their 15-year marriage by writing the word “talaq,” or “I divorce you,” three times in a letter sent to her parents’ house.

Other plaintiffs later joined the case, including a woman whose husband divorced her in a letter sent by express mail.

The case generated intense interest in India as other women came forward with stories of how their husbands had dissolved their marriages via text message or, in one case, by placing a newspaper ad.

“I welcome and support the judgment,” Bano told the ANI news agency. “This is a historic day for Muslim women.”

—Los Angeles Times

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