May 24, 2018

North Korean official calls Mike Pence a "political dummy,” threatens to cancel summit

A top North Korean official called Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" and threatened to call off the upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: Tensions between North Korea and the United States have risen following Korean officials announcing the country refuses to meet the United States’ demand of denuclearization. In an interview with Fox News earlier this week, Pence reiterated the administration’s stance on denuclearization for North Korea. 

The details: The statement, issued through official state media on behalf of Choe Son Hui, vice minister of foreign affairs for North Korea, follows the nation's recent change in tone with the United States and South Korea. The country cancelled talks with South Korea last week over joint U.S. and South Korean military drills and has refused to denuclearize before.

President Trump and the administration have remained adamant that denuclearization must be part of any deal with North Korea in some capacity despite the country's refusal to do so. The U.S. has maintained that they will keep military pressure on North Korea until denuclearization is achieved.

What happens next: With the highly anticipated meeting approaching in just a few weeks, the administration will have to decide whether it will back off its denuclearization demand or take a more aggressive approach with North Korea.

Go deeper: North Korea is giving the United States two options: Back off denuclearization or go with "the Libya model."

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.