5 things for July 31: North Korea, Manafort, wildfire, aid groups & sex abuse, Brexit

1. North Korea

North Korea might be building new missiles. New satellite images reveal that the North could be working on one or two liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles in a suburb of Pyongyang, according to a report in The Washington Post. If that’s true, it’s a big blow to President Trump’s diplomacy efforts with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After his summit in June with Kim, Trump boldly declared the North Korean nuclear threat to be over. A source recently told CNN the North might end denuclearization talks if it doesn’t get a peace treaty with Washington to replace the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.

2. Paul Manafort trial

When the Paul Manafort trial starts today in Virginia, it’ll examine more than just the ex-Trump campaign chairman’s finances. It’ll be the biggest test yet of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax evasion and bank fraud. Prosecutors claim he hid millions of dollars in income from lobbying for Ukrainian politicians. The word “Russia” probably won’t be mentioned, but the trial’s shadow will loom large over the White House and show just how deeply the feds are looking into the private dealings of Trump associates. And the pressure is not just on Manafort. Losing this trial would be devastating for Mueller, a former federal prosecutor tells CNN.

3. California wildfire

The Carr fire in Northern California is now the seventh-most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. The week-old blaze has killed six people, left dozens missing, burned more than 1,100 structures and scorched more than 103,000 acres — an area bigger than Denver. And it’s only 23% contained. It’s hard to predict which way the fire will spread because it’s so large and burning so intensely that it has created its own weather system.

4. Sexual abuse by aid organizations

We’ve heard horrible stories about international aid workers at organizations like Oxfam sexually exploiting the very people they’re supposed to be helping. A new report from the UK government says the problem may be worse than anyone imagined. The report by the House of Commons International Development Committee described the sexual abuse of vulnerable women and girls by aid workers as “endemic” and going on for years.
The abuses range from unwanted sexual comments to rape. Besides Oxfam, aid groups like Save the Children and the Red Cross have also dealt with sex abuse-related scandals. Aid groups were also blasted for their slow responses to the abuses, plagued by a “boy’s club” culture within the organizations. The report calls for better processes to report sexual abuse, the protection of whistle-blowers and an overall change of culture at aid organizations.
When the United Kingdom officially leaves the European Union in eight months, things could get ugly — if the UK hasn’t hammered out a deal with the 28-nation trading bloc. Divorce negotiations between the UK and EU are moving slowly, and many industries are sounding the alarm. People are worried that without a transition deal when the UK leaves in March 2019, the country will be hit with new tariffs and have to deal with delays of people and products at its borders.
That could lead to food shortages and price hikes, because Britain imports half its food. Disruptions in the supply chain could idle production at plants that make cars and planes. Companies may not be able to move staff between the EU and the UK. Britain said it will issue notices over the next two months to prepare businesses and citizens for a potential “messy” EU split.


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Despite the controversy surrounding director James Gunn, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast made clear it wants him back on the set for the next sequel.
Heavy metal
What do you do with old tanks you don’t need anymore? Drop ’em in the Mediterranean near Lebanon and make an underwater park for sea life.


“It’s bittersweet facing my final chapter without her. She is simply irreplaceable.”
Actor Mark Hamill, paying tribute to Carrie Fisher as filming begins this week in London on “Star Wars: Episode IX.” Fisher, who died in 2016, will appear posthumously in the film through previously unreleased footage from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”  


One sweet pie
A giant pizza made up entirely of fruit-flavored gummy candy? Hey, that’s not our thing, but we bet the kids will love it. (Click to view.)

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